WeChat has grown exponentially over recent years, from a voice messaging platform into a truly ubiquitous app experience in China, and its growth is displaying no signs of slowing down. 

As of June 2022, the Chinese multi-functional social media platform, developed by Tencent, had over 1.2 billion daily active users. In fact, the platform is so colossal, it is now referred to as the WeChat ecosystem – an enormous interconnected network composed of the WeChat platform and its ecological partners, including core functions, WeChat official accounts, mini programmes, payment, advertising and other subsystems. 

The opportunities to monetise across this ecosystem are huge – whether it’s through advertising, gaming or payment processing.

What many people don’t get to hear about, however, is the way in which the vast WeChat ecosystem is also a tool with a soul and the initiatives it runs that show it not only cares and talks about being a more responsible enterprise, but it walks the walk as well. 

Tech for good

Here in the UK, although great strides have been made with regards to using technology to take on big social and environmental problems, with the aim of improving communities and lives, there is still more work to be done. It could be argued that now is an opportune time for UK tech companies to increase their ‘tech for good’ initiatives. A refocus of purpose in tech has recently been accelerated by a range of interrelated factors.

First, the success, growth and increasing power of tech has naturally led to a focus on reputation. The short-term pursuit of growth at all costs is shifting towards responsible business growth.

Second, the regulatory landscape for tech is changing fast in response to growing public and government concerns around issues including data collection and privacy, automation and jobs, cyber security, and more widely the mis-use of increasingly powerful technologies such as AI. Europe’s new GPDR regulation is already starting to reshape the privacy agenda around the world, and will likely raise the level of scrutiny and standard setting as regulators play catch up with recent technological advances.

Third, institutional investors and asset managers focused on the sector are increasingly prioritising businesses that make a positive contribution to society. The rapid rise of impact funds, responsible investing practices, impact focused shareholder resolutions, and pressure from investor-held board seats is evidence of this.

So how does WeChat’s vast ecosystem show its social value and actively participate in public welfare? 

Spreading kindness via love meals

In 2021, WeChat Pay, the mobile payment and digital wallet service by WeChat that allows users to make mobile payments and online transactions, launched the ‘WeChat Pay Do Good Together’ project with merchants and users sending love meals to urban beauticians and sanitation workers. 

The ‘love meal’ charity project allows users to donate one yuan when purchasing food from certain brands using WeChat Pay. For every user who donates one yuan, WeChat Pay will also donate the same amount to the project.

To date, the project has served more than 100k sanitation workers, connected 5,700 love stores and sent out over 880k love meals. The donations from both consumers and WeChat Pay go directly to the account of the Beautiful Shenzhen Foundation, which uses the funds to provide love meals to sanitation workers. 

In addition, two globally renowned fast-food brands, McDonald’s and KFC, have joined the charity project and have provided ‘extra meals’ for sanitation workers. McDonald’s has designated its popular combo meal, the ‘Spicy Chicken Burger Combo’, as the ‘love meal’, which includes a spicy chicken burger, French fries, and a soda. Sanitation workers can enjoy the ‘love meal’ for just one cent by visiting one of the 193 designated stores. 

KFC has launched the ‘Old Beijing Chicken Roll Love Meal’ for sanitation workers at its 291 stores in Shenzhen. The ‘love meal’ consists of an old Beijing chicken roll, a dessert and a soda. 

Connecting people with those in need

The ‘WeChat Pay Do Good Together’ project also uses digital feedback to connect users making it easier for those with compassion and those in need of help to match – in digital feedback WeChat Pay sends a thank-you message to the donor, allowing them to feel their kindness has been acknowledged. Not only does this increase the satisfaction of the donor but also inspires more people to be proactive and to get involved with sharing kindness

In addition, WeChat Pay is committed to connecting people with warmth and using digitisation to promote social value. In 2022, WeChat Pay launched the ‘Self-Reliant Stores’ programme, which provides six exclusive services to comprehensively assist disabled small business owners in their operations and development. 

Currently, the programme has served 630,000 disabled small and micro business owners.

It’s no doubt that WeChat is an indispensable part of the public’s digital life, with its powerful technology and continuously improving ecosystem, as it constantly iterates new service scenarios and capabilities.

But it’s not just a powerhouse in China’s social media landscape with huge competitive advantage due to its ability to monetise and attract millions of consumers and businesses to use its offerings, it’s also a huge force for social good and as it continues to grow, so too do the opportunities to increase its social responsibility, spreading love and compassion to local communities and giving back to more vulnerable members of society. 

And by doing what it does best – staying present, insightful and innovative – the platform has huge potential to spread even more love and kindness to those in need in the future. The UK tech industry really should take note.