WeChat bolsters offering for B2B mini-program providers

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(Image credit: TechNode/Emma Lee)

Tencent today unveiled a raft of new initiatives for third-party vendors of WeChat mini-programs to help more businesses establish an online presence on the Chinese lifestyle platform.

The company will accelerate approvals for mini-programs going forward as part of the plan, Tencent announced at the WeChat Open Course event in Shanghai. The firm will also partner with third-party service providers of mini-apps to hold training courses centered on the public transportation, catering and fashion sectors.

“WeChat will help service providers to upgrade from technical supporters to become comprehensive solution providers,” WeChat executive Kero Zheng told TechNode. “Customization, specialization, and collaboration are going to be the label of professional services providers in the future,” he added.

First launched in 2017 as stripped-down versions of apps that run within WeChat, mini-programs have become a major source of traffic for many services in China with over 2.3 million such apps serving more than 681 million active users per month, according to QuestMobile data.

WeChat’s maturing mini-program ecosystem is increasingly attracting attention from third-party companies providing services including mini-program development, logistics, payments, customer relationship management and digital marketing.

The number of WeChat mini-program service providers has jumped to 8,200 from 5,000 over the past year, according to data released at the event. Mini-apps provided by third-party firms account for almost one-third of the platform’s 630,000 mini-apps added this year. Local services, catering and tools are three of the most popular fields among more than 150 industries covered by such vendors.

On top of that, the daily volume of payments made via WeChat mini-programs has more than tripled over the past year, Tencent said.

Enterprise tech is picking up pace on platforms run by China’s tech giants. Tencent’s new programe is part of the Shenzhen-based company’s efforts to expand beyond custumer-facing services to the B2B business. Rival Alibaba has taken similar steps over the past year to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

WeChat may be the most prominent platform for mini-programs but it is far from being the only one. Monthly active users on such apps on WeChat, Alibaba’s Alipay, and Baidu are in excess of 1 billion, according to QuestMobile.