This is a policy that has been getting steadily more and more restrictive. I have partners who simply give westerners a telephone with a new account + Sim loaded and bound to a local to avoid hassles.
Life in China today without WeChat is a bit like life in the USA today but communicating only by postal mail and paying for things with traveller's cheques. It's possible, but it's not a world you want to live in.
If WeChat is taking over the world.. it's a world without foreigners.
You are confusing Wechat with Wechat Pay which is a feature of the former. You only need a mobile phone # (foreign or domestic) to sign up for WeChat. As for Wechat Pay, getting a bank account should be fairly easy if you live in China.
Upon registration, Wechat asked him to get someone to confirm/sponsor his account. I tried to, and was told that my account couldn't verify other accounts because my account was suspicious.
I then solicited my spouse's help. She managed to go through the process of verifying his account, but when I told my friend to try logging in again, he said he was still marked as "suspicious" and wasn't able to log in
Edit: this was recent (last week)
I was also unable to log into the web/desktop client. The error message just said that for security reasons, only verified accounts were allowed to use WeChat through the web, but didn't give any instructions on how to get the account verified.
If non-verified accounts were to have access to WeChat web, it would be significantly easier for people to operate bots on WeChat personal accounts, by spoofing the client as per this framework:
I think some number of non-China mobile numbers need verification out of the box. And they've banned most VOIP/Virtual numbers from signing up; you can't use a Google Voice number, for instance.
Then, if you do sign up, there are hair-triggers on "suspicious use." But "suspicious use" means having multiple devices, asking for a password reset, not uploading a profile photo fast enough, or more than a few weeks of non-use.
All of those things are typical for foreign visitors, who don't have Chinese friends to verify them.
I think it may be because I didn’t upload my contacts. Or possibly because I didn’t add anyone and start chatting. But maybe it was because I’m in the US. (Or a bit of each)
Can't remember the specifics though.
You can also still use all the social features everyone is used to in China.
Really? I've had people send me red packets but I can't accep them as I don't have a Chinese bank account or Chinese ID
that was scary
The other way around is what I find concerning.
If you're required to pay taxes in the US for any reason, you have to give just about any bank in the world that will accept you either an IRS form W9 (citizen or "US person") or W8-BEN (anyone else).
The US government requires this.
From the point of view of the Chinese government authorities, this is a feature, not a bug.
China has effectively segmented the "Internet" into two categories, those things with servers/centralized authority hosted domestically in China, subject to the Ministry of State Security, and things outside the Great Firewall on the "foreign" Internet.
I would be entirely unsurprised if at some point in the future the government requires their domestic ISPs to use a Chinese-hosted set of root nameservers other than the ICANN lettered roots.
At least in the US or other western countries there some legal restrictions on the government for accessing private messages.
In China there's probably not much of a choice.
and i'd imagine most of those people don't care much if the chinese government is spying on their baby photos or vacation albums.
I watched three locals take literally one hour yesterday to validate one account for an EU foreigner, and my other EU partners have had experiences similar to yours: works for a few days then locks.
If it works for you.. feel lucky.
Every time I come over, I hand a fistfull of cash to a local, who will send me the equivalent in WeChat.
From what I understand on new foreign accounts, even this loophole is closed.
I mostly only ever go to China For work (Way better parties to be had in Hong Kong imo), and luckily I have some cool Chinese coworkers who will transfer me straight dollars to yuan. I usually send them 2K USD, they send me an equivalent amount of yuan in a red envelope, I use whatever i use while there, and then I'll send them whatever i don't use back and they'll venmo me back USD.
Then it's just a matter of getting finance to reimburse me for purchases whos receipts are screen shots of QR codes.
I've debated spinning up a startup around this, charging some really low fee, but I seems like I'll get into trouble with KYC laws pretty quick.
The passwords are 6 numerical digits only...
However you will not be able to Top up your WeChat Pay HK within China (yet).
I have never tried to tied a foreign Credit Card to a WeChat Pay HK Account, but in theory since it is in HK there is no reason why it wouldn't work. Although I expect there will be a higher exchange rate to cover up the processing fees.
So in theory you don't even need to stop by HK to have this sort out, you just download the WeChat Pay Apps in HK ( I suspect you have to change App Store region ) to get it done. But in case you want to witness the largest Concrete Jungle in the world you are welcome to stop by.
Is this regional, or perhaps urban vs rural? On my recent trip, I didn't see anyone using cash. Everyone used their phone. I bought coffee with cash at a Starbucks -- all the cash in their cash register was in a single roll held together with a rubber band. It was used so infrequently that they didn't use the trays or separate the bills.
Anyways, think about how much cash you use in the states? I think I last withdrew cash 6 months ago? And I haven’t used all of that yet, since there is maybe one Asian bakery I know of that charges for using a CC. The USA was already way ahead of the game on non-cash payments (via checks and then cards) and that has only accelerated since (not as fast as china’s move to mobile payments, but starting from a much higher level). So ues, even if they aren’t using cash in big Chinese cities, they aren’t using it in USA cities either.
Since as a foreigner I was never able to use wechat pay myself (the rules kept changing, but when I tried early on they couldn’t do anything without my Chinese ID number), I used to have to use UnionPay and cash for all of my financial transactions. So that was the end of 2016 when I left, more than a couple of years, so I’m a bit out of date. When I moved back the states, I became cashless again (having been cashless before moving to China in Europe and the USA).
Even the most faraway small villages residents use Alipay or WeChat, they don't even know what is a POS or ATM.
World Payments Report 2018 https://worldpaymentsreport.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2...
China ranks the third of non-cash transactions organization after Eurozone and USA, and with its rate of growing, China will become the #1 in 2021, aka 3 years later.
Actually, in 2016, WeChat alone has already reached 500M transition/day.
As for cash propensity, it has nothing to do with non-cash transactions. Chinese ppl just love keeping lots of money in their bank accounts.
Life without wechat in China is ok, but wechatPay helps a lot. In Zhejiang province and other industrial hubs Alipay is widely used, even by the little cigarrette shop seller, but most places this is most WechatPay's territorial waters, yes, maybe because Alibaba's birth of place is Zhejiang.
Many years ago I helped a cooperating individual and had to buy a Phone inside China, could not get Phone device from abroad to pay things with WechatPay by any means.
Later,could not make transactions after a while, even walking in person inside a foreign branch of ICBC, having accounts both in the same name in a China's local branch of ICBC and at the said foreigner branch, and firstly to have an account in a foreign branch is not easy, so thigs are getting hard indeed for wechatPay abroad.
Even my "personal" wechat, in a phone that is decadely old, with decadely old wechat account, has suffered a rather strange and suspiciously unexpected cut on the maximum amount of financial transaction limit.
I don't go down south for long time, but the current chairman of China seems going in the completely wrong way, is already enough to get worried, it seems what was left of the directions set by Hujintao and wenjiabao, at this point are all gone. Expected a bit, they were/are(it is unclear) kind of enemy groups, but this is already ridiculous.
Margareth Thatchers way of detecting interior confict lead Weakness of mind and Weakness of power itself doesn't fail. It was already seen coming by the placing of stupid warmongering ridiculous tapes on subway monitors the first week after assuming the presidency. Probably sources are born lack of confidence and Fear of ucraine\arabspring phenomenons. Sure not a excuse for stupidity. very Bad for world's Hummanitarian\left-leaning-Freedom/Fraternity "long" term.
:by the other hand, Thailand is giving great unexpected hopes.
:the worst of all this is that probably the "numberous fish school defense" provided by using a Billion persons of interest's Chat tool, monitered by government that has adult-like more important things to do, is defeated at this point, so...look for some other non-zuckerb chat tool now.
It seems incredible that people would want to use such a restrictive service when much more open ones exist, but the others routinely have their service degraded by the government so they aren't a viable option.
Personally, it think in the long term this sort of compartmentalization is harmful, it too often facilitates groupthink and missing valuable input from people with a different perspective. It's damaging to a society and is going to have repercussions.
Unfortunately, we are having similar problems here as well as our large tech/finance companies (social media, registrars, paypal, patreon, stripe, mastercard, etc ) are being used to silence voices and intimidate people.
Even more worrisome is the effect that money and investment from our largest foreign investors china, saudi arabia, israel, etc will have going forward. Will tech censor even more to appease large foreign investors? We know how foreign money and investment affects everything from hollywood to news coverage to politics. Can tech be immune from that?
There’s a lot more stick than carrot from the government to connecting outside, so a lot of people are just avoiding concequences rather than doing what they want. OTOH, we complain about the same problems in our “free/open” internet as well.
Network effects. Look into any thread here about people quitting FB. You'll see several valid use cases showing why people stay on the platform despite its serious flaws.
Living in Seattle, I haven’t been to an ATM in 6 months. The last time I had to use cash was ironically in Boston China town (a cheap Banh Mi place wouldn’t take credit cards).
I don’t know about Seattle, but in California most recreational cannabis stores don’t accept card so that was another couple of hundred dollars I had to withdraw and use this week.
Marijuana is unique because banks won’t go near it because the federal government still thinks weed is illegal. Marijuana dispensaries aren’t even allowed bank accounts as a result, something that would surely happen in China as well :).
My point was more that mobile payments are not ubiquitous yet, and enough places are cash only that you still have to think about carrying cash just in case. I only mention cash as an extreme, as opposed to China, where everywhere accepts mobile payments even like street food, which is funny given SF is a tech center.
The reason street food is not well developed in SF is that there simply isn’t much street food. If small store holders and credit card free food vans were more of a thing, well, they could use Square or something. A developed economy is basically just structured very differently from a developing one, where most consumer transactions occur between big businesses that have no problem using checks or CC or debit cards or ApplePay or whatever.
On the other hand, China never had checks and CCs never caught on, debit cards were eventually supported though in annoying ways (PIN AND sign, WTF???). CCs are even worse: in China, the burden of proof is in the consumer rather than the merchant, so Chinese CC holders are actively targeted abroad for fraud (eg restaurants in Bellevue WA targeting Chinese visitors with ICBC AmEx cards because they know ICBC is a shit bank). They skipped all that, and found QR codes and phones a great way to catch up. I think that is great, but they haven’t really surpassed the deceloped world l, they’ve just adapted well to their own situation.
Do those other options actually exist within China? I thought they were blocked and that's why WeChat is dominate.
I think you're talking about domain fronting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_fronting). IIRC, Google, Amazon, and MS all blocked it because they were afraid of getting blocked. Though I also vaguely recall that Russia was blocking big blocks of AWS IPs for a time to try to stamp out Telegram.
I was in China recently, and Signal actually seemed to work on a local wifi network (with cellular data disabled), so maybe they've got some new circumvention technology in place. I didn't thoroughly try to test it since 99% of the time I just used data roaming on a foreign carrier to avoid the firewall.
I have neither a WeChat or Facebook account. I just don't see any real usecase for me and never missed it. But people are using it because it is usefull for them, even thou i can't see why people arent just using the alternatives that arent a murdochesque cancer in democracy.
People just dont care about the poltical implications of the technology they are using. People often just want it to work, because usually it doesn't.
And WeChat is really good software. Its better than almost everything i have ever seen before. From my insight it is completely out of league for facebook. WeChat compares to facebook like Genera to CP/M. A glimpse at it gave that "the future is right now feeling" like nothing within the last 10 years.
people use it because:
1. If the conversation is not about criticizing gov in group chat or "moment" timeline, it's ok. Group chat/Timeline are not treated as public space, and talking bad in public is prohibited.
2. friends/family are on it and professional network is also on it.
3. store member cards are on it, you can order food and checkout in restaurants or online on it, you can send/receive money on it; using third party integrated services, you can book hotel, train, flight, pay utilities; you can even play games using the internal "tiny apps".
It brings so much good things, while you just need to keep silent about specific things. Privacy is still a relatively new concept to China, and the true freedom of speech is just so distant that the upper level doesn't seem to like it and you can't really oppose such overwhelming power. So why don't they just relax and use it.
That plus the language barrier also makes it a convenient way for WeChat users who immigrate to other countries to avoid integrating into overall society as well as discussing controversial matters like tax minimization strategies. I'd like to think my government has considered the latter and is doing something about it but I'm not too hopeful.
Its trivial to share photos using shared galleries in iCloud. Why Facebook is still considered valuable is beyond me. The last thing I want is photos of my kids on a Facebook type service.
I’m not really worried about toddler pics on Facebook. Many people have complex conspiracy theories that they can be turned into CP or something, but they are all pretty impractical.
The gamification is intense.
Yeah, but what if it works? What if technology and the laws of our physical universe really do allow efficient, permanent and total totalitarianism?
But I also recognize that the universe is bigger than me, and I'm not so self-assured as to believe that its impact on me isn't as big or bigger than my impact on it.
I think that you can decline to work on bombs and torture and machine learning unto psychological manipulation, etc. but also at the same time have faith that the emergence of the internet is something natural whose essence is good and beautiful and true.
To be clear: I view government as a temporary necessary evil whose time is coming to a close in the coming decades or centuries.
I am not asking anybody to accept totalitarianism, nor to accept that repeating a failed experiment will suddenly, and for unspecified reasons, yield different results.
Resistance in the face of totalitarianism is an ongoing imperative; please don't think that I am unsympathetic.
Rather, I am just reporting that the way that I come to peace with the aspects of emergence of technology that are out of my control is to have faith that something incredible, natural, and evolutionary is occurring.
You could say that Facebook is just as bad, but 1) I don't install Facebook and 2) I still trust the US Government more than the Chinese one.
If I were going to China on business I'd have a separate cell phone just for that purpose. You can just swap sim cards if you need to keep the same number. Smartphones are so cheap nowadays you might as well have a burner for that purpose.
A SIM card is an independent computer that runs a stripped-down version of Java. According to this comment (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17083221), the cell network can even upload programs to it to run.
for example: https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_ts/131100_131199/131130/08...
The most cost-effective solution? Put it into a blender.
It's unfortunate not much of their architecture is publicly shared or discussed. With their massive amount of users and incredibly diverse service offerings I'd love to see their backend architecture design choices/tradeoffs.
There seems more on cloud.tencent.com/developer.
And you can check their presentations on major per-field conferences like AI or big data or something.
IMHO, architecture wise, they are not particularly interesting.
Probably helps when the govt is footing at least part of the bill in order to access tons of data and information ;-)
Hate to break it to the author though: western companies aren't going to be the ones doing the digital liberation. It's not like that's what their doing here anyway.
And "Chabuduo" sounds similar to "Fail fast, fail often."
1. Guanxi is related to one's network or clout, but there are several distinct differences between the chinese concept of Guanxi and the western notion of "old boy's network." Primarily, guanxi is more a locative phenomena--anyone can have Guanxi within your community and business--whereas idea of an "old boy's network" pertains to ones connections and access to society at large. Additionally, Guanxi isn't explicitly related to a subpopulation. Anyone can have guanxi in a specific community, not just men.
2. Chabuduo literally means "not a big difference." More abstractly, I see it as a thought process where "adequacy is enough." I do see the connection with fail fast, where one doesn't wait until perfection to ship. However chabuduo to me doesn't exemplify the pursuit of improvement that underlies "fail fast, fail often."
It's a concept everywhere, it's just that it's not nearly as necessary in much of the West. You can get by just fine. The distinction, imo, is that the "old boys network" is networking strictly among the rich and powerful.
It’s like “face” is just respect, but sounds more “Asian-ish.”
Guanxi is just networking. Sometimes it’s important and sometimes it’s not. if you can speak the local language, you’ll need less of it. I’m know immigrants in the US will say how important it is to network with the right people.
The only time I use WeChat is if family members are in China where I assume they have banned FB messenger and iMessage.
How can any journalists learn about this story without a WeChat account or without having some insider (local Chinese person) who has access to a WeChat account?
Multiple Internets are already here, and we've got to work at bridging them all over again.
We bitch and moan in the US about NSA-Google-FB-Amazon etc spying on private conversations/things we say outloud etc.
Why on EARTH would you want a Chinese WeChat account, assuming you had any privacy concerns in a country like the US?
Also, I don’t live in China.
WeChat is more taking over the world before ByteDance's phenomenal growth in the past 2 years.
Now to say it's taking the world appears to show that the author has no idea what's happening in China...
Edit: To be clear, while I haven't used Snapchat, based on what I've heard about it I'd say that the two apps are nothing alike except for having some kind of chat functionality.
I ceased installation and removed the app.
Wait how can you do this? I've tried searching in English (can't write Chinese) to no avail.
Tell me, how can a social media like Signal and WhatsApp win in a country of billon population without even a single one local office? Just because it's encrypted? Come on!
How to say that? Either charlatan or simpleton.
Talk with some "real" Chinese ppl, guys, and learn about what is WeChat.
So it is not obvious, or even true that a chat app needs a local office to become popular in a given region. It may be true that a chat app needs a local office to become popular in China, but it's definitely possible to believe otherwise without being a "charlatan or simpleton".
As an aside, we don't talk to each other that way on Hacker News. Please do not insult people, and please explain why you think someone is wrong instead of claiming that it's obvious.
Sorry, my fault, I thought recognizing the diversity of things is "obvious" in HN.
Since we are a foreign firm located in South Korea - they sell our services to their users on our behalf. Amazing how an entire company can be ran solely on wechat
Edit: the title has been changed; it used to read "WeChat is taking over the world" or something
YouTube, Netflix, Wikipedia, Uber, Google search, iOS & iPhone / watch / iPad, Mac, Android, Windows, Microsoft Office/365, Facebook core, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Gmail & G services, Google Maps, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail / Outlook.com, Dropbox, Reddit, Imgur, Twitter, LinkedIn, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Adobe / Photoshop, iTunes / Apple Music, Wordpress, Github, Stack Exchange, Steam, Airbnb, Priceline / Booking, Amazon.com, eBay, PayPal, AWS, Oracle, Salesforce, Akamai, Cloudflare, VMWare, Lets Encrypt, GoDaddy, Craigslist, Symantec, Red Hat, Activision, Electronic Arts, Autodesk, IBM, Intel, AMD, nVidia, Cisco, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Dell / EMC, HP, Western Digital, Lam Research, Applied Materials, Micron, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices
There are a bunch more that one could argue for, however that covers the bulk of them.
Amazon it's also the last option i would be looking at when shopping for something online in Europe
If it's an American publication, it's fair.
The OP comment is not unreasonable - American's are fairly nationally centric by default ... but they generally don't say 'the world' when they mean just America.
* of course only in US, where you are limited by nonstandard LTE bands excluding 90% of phones available elsewhere