WeChat ePayment

WeChat, once a simple chat program, has transformed into a lifestyle, the “one app to rule them all,” enabling its 938 million users to do everything from hail a taxi to split a restaurant bill (just use the “Go Dutch” button). You can even download apps within the app — thereby bypassing the App Store entirely. As WeChat starts to resemble an operating system in its own right, it may well challenge iOS and erode the value of Apple’s premium hardware.

WeChat has come up with a lot of creative ways to capture and hold users in China’s hyper-competitive app market. But perhaps the most important is WeChat Pay, its built-in banking function. In addition to enabling in-app shopping (say, within a chat), it offers a simple way to move money to other users. Last year, $1.2 trillion in mobile payments were made through WeChat, with each user averaging about $85 a month in peer-to-peer transfers. Since 2015, that feature has allowed users to “tip” any of the independent content creators — from authors to musicians to live-streaming comedians — publishing their work on the service.