Wechat published a user behavior report on its foreign users living in China yesterday, revealing that WeChat has become a way of life for foreigners who come to China to study, work or start businesses.
The most popular social media app in China, operated by Shenzhen-based technology giant Tencent, has conducted surveys of its millions of users in China, covering functions including WeChat communication behavior, “red packets” for sending money, and stickers.
According to the survey, six out of 10 foreigners use WeChat Pay for group buys, food delivery, transportation, dining and online shopping.
Compared with typical Chinese WeChat users, who were born in the 1980s or 1990s, foreigners are more active on the app’s chat platform, as 60 percent more foreign users send messages through WeChat, 42 percent more use voice calls and 13 percent more use video chat.
For Raz Gal-Or, a 22-year-old Israeli who studies at Peking University, another interesting finding of the survey was that foreigners send 10 red packets monthly on average.
“I might be the foreigner who sent the greatest number of red packets,” said Raz, who is also co-founder and host of Y-plan, a man-on-the-street program focused on foreigners living in China. He has interviewed many foreigners about whether they collect red packets and their experience using stickers in WeChat groups.
These videos have been met with enthusiasm on the Chinese Internet. Y-plan’s official account on China’s Sina Weibo has gained over 1 million followers.
Fans were surprised to find out that many foreigners speak fluent Chinese, know every online Chinese buzzword and join hundreds of WeChat groups to grab hongbao, or “red packets” of virtual money.
Raz said he has even joined a sticker group for collecting the latest memes. The survey showed that 45 percent more stickers are sent per day by foreigners than typical Chinese users on average.
These data indicate a larger picture, according to Fang Yedun, Raz’s Chinese partner at Y-plan.
“Foreigners living China are just like Raz: they use WeChat payment, they grab ‘red packets,’ they each save at least 100 sets of stickers, and they all want deeper involvement in Chinese society — they love China,” Fang said.
WeChat, developed and first released by Tencent in 2011, has become one of the largest standalone messaging apps by monthly active users, which numbered 938 million monthly for the first quarter, a year-on-year growth of 23 percent, according to the report.
Tencent became China’s most valuable firm in September, beating State-owned telecom behemoth China Mobile and nearly reaching half of Apple’s valuation.