Social media platform WeChat created more than 22 million job opportunities in 2018, 5.3 million of which drew the majority of income through the platform, according to a report published on Monday. Total job opportunities grew 10% compared with 2017, following steady average growth of more than 2 million positions per year since 2014. The report did not specify the proportion of jobs that were full-time, however, or average wages.
The paper was co-released by Tencent’s WeChat, official think tank China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, and their jointly established Digital China Research Center. Together they calculated that WeChat enabled “traditional” industries such as food and beverage, entertainment, and education to scale more efficiently, capturing more than RMB 4 billion in 2018. The app accounted for RMB 240 billion or 5% of total spending on “information consumption” during the same period.
Mini-programs, WeChat’s answer to the Apple App Store, helped drive growth. Launched in 2017, the fast-growing, flexible feature has helped lower the entry threshold for entrepreneurs across the board. Alone, mini-programs are estimated to have created 1.8 million direct and indirect employment opportunities in 2018, a 75% increase from the previous year. They also created some RMB 500 billion in business value in 2018.
Many of those taking advantage of WeChat’s entrepreneurial opportunities are either individuals or small businesses. New startups comprised a large majority of both mini-program operators and third-party service providers, and made up more than 60% of business operators within WeChat’s public account system, an in-app media platform.
WeChat’s vast ecosystem has opened up flexible and part-time job opportunities for new populations, allowing farmers, homemakers, and those with disabilities to tap into remote online work, according to the report. Of the one billion users on the social platform, 11% said they turned to the app during job searches, with a quarter of those respondents eventually finding “suitable” positions via WeChat.