WeChat, the shape of the connected China: Fabernovel

20 Mar 2019 – Impressive, intriguing China is all too often dismissed as a source of inspiration for being “too different”. Yet over the past decade, China has undergone unprecedented change as a result of the implementation of protectionist economic policies.

No longer the world’s sweatshop, the country is now the international epicenter of technological research & development. This new identity has been helped along by superstars of technology headquartered in vibrant and dynamic cities such as Beijing, home to 40 unicorns and venture capital funds, Shanghai and its financial services, Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of hardware, and Hangzhou, home to Alibaba’s headquarters.

 

The Dizzying Rise of WeChat

Among the giants responsible for this new driving force, one in particular has done more than any other to turn China into a connected country: WeChat, Tencent’s flagship product and backbone.

The application snowballed at lightning speed, amassing 100 million users after just 433 days on the market (compared with 1,650 days for Facebook) and helping to create 20.3 million jobs along the way.

We estimate that the platform, with its one billion users, now accounts for over half of Tencent’s total value, bearing in mind the company is listed at over $400 billion in market capitalisation on the Hong Kong stock market.

The application is shattering records, with a penetration rate on the Chinese market estimated at 92%.

The company is on the brink of fulfilling the super-app dream of connecting users to a wide ecosystem of suppliers offering commercial, public services and a unified payment solution, thus upholding its promise to bring users “one tap away from everything”.

And the dream is rubbing off on similar applications that are being developed in South-East Asia, such as Grab in Singapore and Go-Jek in Indonesia.

This meeting with Sylvain Joandel, General Manager, Fabernovel Asia aimed at dechiphering the success factors behind the strategy that WeChat’s founders were able to roll out since 2011 to analyse all the competitive dynamics in this new economy, its performance levers and its global development strategy.

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