Tech giant Tencent has touted the role of WeChat Pay and mini-programs as drivers of digitisation in the Chinese economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bai Zhenjie (白振杰), head of WeChat Pay Retail Sector Operations, said that WeChat Pay data points to a recovery in the Chinese retail and food sectors by June – July, following a marked slump during the January – March period as a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Bai “digitisation capability” provided critical support to the recovery and growth of these sectors, including membership CM systems, front-end sales systems, and intermediate platforms that provide online and offline connections to homes.
“WeChat Pay has played a key role in the establishment of this digitisation role for many enterprises,” said Bai on 10 September at the 2020 Tencent Global Digital Ecosystem Conference (2020腾讯全球数字生态大会).
Bai highlighted in particular the role of WeChat’s mini-programs – downloadable miniature apps that fit within other larger app ecosystems, as a key driver of economic digitisation.
“We have always advocated the concept that WeChat Pay isn’t just for payments,” said Bai.
“Aside from the foundational capability of WeChat Pay, we have connected the WeChat ecosystem’s product capability to help everyone with online and offline integration and customer-facing contact.”
Bai said that WeChat mini-programs have facilitated the creation of digitised products for users by major overseas corporations.
Retail giant Walmart launched its own WeChat mini-app in 2019, which permits consumers to make self-help purchases via barcode scans, removing the hassle of lining up for counter service.
McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken have also made use of WeChat mini-apps to enable customers to order food on their own, greatly reducing labour costs and providing a more convenient consumer experience.