From my time visiting China I'm not sure it's possible to live, in the urban areas, without WeChat. Payments are basically all through WeChat; I found places that didn't take Visa/Mastercard (or even know what those were, although that may have just been my pronunciation).
So the answer to this article is simple:
- For China: CCP approval
- For America/Europe: WeChat would never happen, unless there was severe monopolisation that allowed a company to roll something like WeChat out successfully, or the federal government / national governments mandated it
The article discusses how a WeChat replacement may be done using blockchain, not what a WeChat replacement needs to be successful (as the title would imply), or what may be the most technically viable way of doing it.
I don't think enough has been made about how extraordinary it is that a sovereign government has let such a core governmental function simply be handed over to for-profit businesses. It would be like, in the US, registering for your drivers license by Signing in with Google and being bound by the Google TOS. Commit an offense that causes Google to delete your account and now you can't legally drive anymore.
https://www.ft.com/content/760142e6-740e-11ea-95fe-fcd274e92... is sadly paywalled but it's an excellent account of the actual negotiations that have been going on between Tencent, Alibaba and the many different bureaucratic layers of the Chinese government.
Obviously, the relationship is messy. But it's undoubtedly basic cronyism, and these companies succeed because they are the 'chosen ones' and their direct ties to government officials.
In Australia, the old rule "everyone must accept cash" has been swept away by covid-19. They've even upped limit you have at which you have to enter a PIN, so most purchases are contactless. Cash will be another casualty of covid-19 I guess. There are only two contactless platforms accepted everywhere - Visa and Master. Both are privately held. And they are head quartered in another country.
Is the USA so different?
What happened, was Uber started dropping customers that had a poor rating. Maybe they didn’t give a $5 tip, so the driver gave them a poor rating. Who knows why.
But the result is that the public, the customer in question, can no longer use Uber’s services.
This is terrifying, in that Uber wanted to eliminate public taxi services, and privatize it on their proprietary platform.
If you think this through, then what could be the potential long term effect of this?
Possibly that we as consumers, are now beholden to some random rating system, by some private company, that has the final authority to withhold essential public services from us.
And from what we have seen, these private businesses have an effective lobbying system, that can get lawmakers to draft laws in their favor.
Policing their own platform works both ways. When I order an uber I expect a certain quality of service. ie a safe, comfortable ride. Likewise, when I drive for uber I expect people to respect my property (my car). I expect uber to fulfill both of these things so that it is a usable platform.
Beyond that, if you get removed from using uber can't you use lyft, didi, a taxi, or public transit?
I would hope that the long term effect of this is that people behave in ubers. I personally have had friends throw up in them or drunkenly harass female drivers.
This is not true, I can see exactly which rides included a tip. However, I can't see this before I rate the rider so I can't penalize a rider for not tipping.
If they reject you and you believe it's in error, the only way to clear up that error is to talk to a Google/Facebook employee, there's no way to directly talk to the US government.
On the one hand, it fixes one of the problems with the stimulus which is that it's not getting money into the hands of people fast enough. A Google/FB run system could have probably gotten the money into people's hands in days rather than the months it's taking the US govt. On the other hand, it's a totally wild scenario. There's no way it would even be thinkable that that's what the US government would roll out.
But that's the reality in China right now. For example, the law in Beijing right now is that you cannot check yourself into a hotel without showing a green Beijing Health Code and you can't get a health code without installing WeChat/Alipay. That's how crazy the situation is in China. Totally core government functions are being outsourced to for profit, private companies.
There isn't much chance someone else could get a cut, even for state owned companies, I guess same applies to Cloud Computing market in China.
Isn't Apple ecosystem basically US/European WeChat? It's not a single app, but they use tight integration and single device lock to create essentially a full copy of all WeChat services with iMessage, Apple Pay, Health, etc? Apple basically control communications, payments and health data of their users and works with other vendors to integrate them primarily as payment, content and preferred identification provider.
You get all of that nicely packaged into a single box. The only difference is that you can't use it on a cheap phone.
If you could only perform all your life necessities by using a single app from Apple, like taxis/medical records/paying for things/transit access/government stuff/etc., then sure. But for now, there isn't anything like this. In fact, it would not come to fruition at any point in this current timeline imo, given that for each one of those things, Apple has competitors who have offerings just as good or better for each of those categories.
Also, I heavily doubt that US would ever subject itself to every single aspect of people's lives having to go through a single private entity with no alternatives available.
I think another part of the reason it happened in China (aside from obvious ones that people already mentioned, like WeChat being de-facto pretty much an extension of CCP) is the fact that before WeChat there was nothing. So WeChat came to an empty field and filled all that vacuum. In 2020, there is no such vacuum in the US/Europe. For each of the tasks one would use their smartphone for, there are multiple competent competing entries.
Doesn't necessarily need to be a blockchain, but something similar in spirit, and this quickly falls apart because WeChat does a billion+ transactions per day, that's about tens of thousands per second and there's no decentralised, secure solution for this.
Last year I noticed I could no longer use cash to touch up my Shanghai Transportation card balance. There are still some touch up machines but they now only accept WeChat / AliPay QR codes for payment. I have to go to the one service counter in the station to use cash to touch it up and sometimes those aren't even staffed.
Not only that, but the Shanghai Metro has moved away from their own NFC Transportation cards to installing bar code scanners that directly use WeChat / AliPay QR codes when you enter and exit the station, then charge your account accordingly. They also have support for NFC and Apple Pay. But to set up the Transit Card in Apple Pay you need a China Union Bank Card. The alternative is to install the Shanghai Metro App, link that to AliPay with the new option for foreigners to add foreign credit cards (this by the way creates a virtual Chinese prepaid debit card which eventually will refund unused funds).
If you buy streetfood (from those BBQs late at night in the middle of city intersections for example in Shanghai) you now find that payment with WeChat may be the only option.
Beggars don't want cash and instead are displaying a big WeChat QR code to receive payments.
I was staying in my friend's local apartment complex. To enter the building you needed to use a WeChat app. Unfortuantely we couldn't register me because I didn't get a Chinese phone number this time. It took a lot of awkward conversations to eventually get someone to issue me a physical NFC key card, something they no longer do.
Here is also an article on the subject:
Well, maybe you've been in a different region or something, but I've been in capital of a 2 provinces and quite rural areas too, no problems whatsoever. Sounds like you are talking exclusively about Shanghai. I've not been specifically to Shanghai, so who knows, maybe there it is that shitty. Not where I went though, so don't try to discredit my telling of how it is as "visiting only stores and restaurants catering to foreigners", cause that's BS.
> If you buy streetfood (from those BBQs late at night in the middle of city intersections for example in Shanghai) you now find that payment with WeChat may be the only option.
Done that, with cash, in a major city, capital of a province.
> Beggars don't want cash and instead are displaying a big WeChat QR code to receive payments.
Perhaps in Shanghai as well? I've seen them begging for cash, where I went, so that is also a quite general statement to make.
Seems your personal experience is either limited to Shanghai or simply completely different. Speak a little Chinese to the locals and they lighten up. Never on my whole trip have I encountered a single situation, where they would not take cash, while having seen a lot of different places, from capitals to villages, to street food, to little markets. Perhaps just don't go to Shanghai, if it is that bad.
I find it a little bit stupid, that people downvote a first hand account of how things are in several areas in China, as if it was something bad in a discussion about such things. This is exactly what this discussion is about, so it's on topic and adds valuable information to the discussion: Not everywhere it is as you describe it to be. Don't confuse any personal location limited experience with an overall situation in a huge nation like China.
Some of WeChat's real pain points are:
- No backing up your messages to the cloud like WhatsApp or having them loaded from the server like Facebook Messenger. Moving all your messages from one phone to another is quite the ordeal .
- Complete disregard for platform standards. Specifically notifications on Android and Windows 10 are atrocious. Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have notifications that are well integrated with the especially the Android notification system, WeChat notifications however are not.
-A lot of nice to have chat features are either non existent or have just recently been introduced. For example a poor implementation of quoting a previous message was just introduced like a month ago, and there are no reactions for specific messages -- and no timeline for implementing them either.
WeChat does have quite a bit of different "apps" built into it, but not really more convenient to use than the separate apps are. It's mainly just a casualty of China's lack of anti monopoly legislation.On my phone I have Alipay (the other half of china's online payment duopoly) installed together with WeChat, and almost always use it for payment (It's pretty much accepted everywhere WeChat is)
Their old product QQ has it, the reason they didn't do it on WeChat, I think it's because they have no other choice since:
-They have to make WeChat "presentable" internationally, they means they can't appear to store it since they are beholden to China.
-They need to convey a message that they aren't watching you, but in reality their system needs to be monitored by Chinese police real time, since that rules out the option of E2E encryption, the only way is at least appear to be hands off.
International competitors may be. Till this day, I didn't see something come close to what WeChat is offering in China.
WeChat is like Chrome, it is so big and ubiquitous in China, it can dictate standard.
The online backup of messages itself is a pain point I agree, but local transfer is possible, though a bit cumbersome.
Why do you think there a many competitors outside China but none in?
But how can there isn't a WeChat competitor, that actually does all the things WeChat is capable of in US/EU?
Regarding WeChat as if it is another chat application only means you have never been a regular user of it, which is probably true to most HN folks.
WeChat actually has its own embedded WebView within it and JS execution engine also. It also has the whole Paypal counterpart ships with it. The whole WeChat ecosystem is probably on par with the whole Facebook, probably more complex than Chrome I would say.
For many reasons, but I think a major one is because neither EU nor US (both people and governments) would be cool with all aspects of one's life being functional ONLY by using this one app. Imagine if a WeChat competitor came out in EU/US, and now you cannot use transit without this app at all, or buy things, or get a taxi, etc.
This is extremely anti-competitive and goes even beyond the usual monopoly definition. Major politicians these days run for president on the promise to break down Amazon, Google, etc. And neither of those come even close to the monopolistic reach on the scale that WeChat operates on.
The reason is not that important however.
The Chinese market is unique, Western economy can't create something like WeChat doesn't mean that its existence is something abnormal.
Chinese companies create something more to the liking of Chinese consumers should get anyone surprised. When it comes to internet, and no one is enjoying natural advantage.
Why doesn't WeChat get more competitors in just a specific area, like chat, which is a lot simpler, so a company could potentially do it better than WeChat?
WeChat doesn't get that kind of competition in China at all, and it really looks like its because of the government.
Maybe most people only see the outside of china version of wechat, which is primarily just chat. Inside china that's not the case.
Everything shared on WeChat usually deeplinks to the equivalent Mini Program within WeChat. These apps receive organic traffic through social sharing and can also enhance this through advertising on WeChat.
I do not see Chinese consumers switch apps much other than switching to video / streaming apps like 抖音 (TikTok) and gaming apps.
I've used wechat expensively in China and I wish there was something like that in the US. Wechat just makes it so much easier to do somethings and has a nice integration with life. Some examples outside of messaging:
- payments obvious, but also ability to send money, split bills etc.
- Orders things. Either in person at restaurants, delivery or a ride
- The social media aspect. A lot of events, tickets etc are sent via wechat.
It would not need a blockchain. There is no reason whatsoever for basing this on a blockchain.
and governments vary in their trustworthiness
The team definitely needs to get the experience of being behind the great firewall. Try using a VPN there to watch YouTube, try using a locally purchased cell phone without access to Google Play or the Apple app store. Try bashing PRC government policies in WeChat.
Only then will they see how tightly things are locked down. It's not like they're the only ones to have this idea, so why doesn't it exist? Oh, because it's really difficult and even dangerous with the current police state that controls the communications.
> That's not true anymore. I've been paided and knows others who continue to be paid in bitcoin.
The statement is true, if properly understood. Colloquially, "nobody gets paid in [cryptocurrency]" means that it's so unusual to get paid in it that it's reasonable to assume no one does. That's not a statement that can be shown to be false with a few counterexamples.
At the time it had feature parity (and in many cases, superiority) with Facebook, but even though loads of people already had Google accounts for Gmail or Docs, etc. they didn't want to post to both Facebook and G+.
Since everyone was on Facebook and less than everyone was on G+, it didn't matter that you could silo your contacts more easily, integrate voice/video chat, make online/in person payments, or maintain some semblance of a personal "page" in addition to just looking at an activity stream.
And as we've seen over and over, once something is seen as an "also-ran" or less popular option, it largely becomes a joke among the potential userbase and definitely not a success.
Because Friends and Family are still using Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram etc i also keep on using those apps.
Im just navigating those app with the thought of they will probably save this somewhere.
- A payments platform called WeChat Pay (think PayPal, Venmo, Apply Pay, Android Pay all combined)
- A consumer messenger platform with voice and video chat (think Facebook Messenger + WhatsApp)
- A friends newsfeed called Moments with audio and video support, external links but visibility of
content is timeboxed in days, weeks or months (think Facebook News Feed with a touch of Instagram Stories)
- An e-commerce store platform called WeChat Store (think Shopify)
- A business platform called "Official Accounts" with many features:
* A business / bot messaging platform (think Facebook Messenger for Business)
* An advertising platform
* A content distribution platform, primarily through Official Account Subscription Accounts (like blogs, news, think Medium). WeChat offers this through "Channels", "Top Stories", "Official Accounts" and "Mini Programs".
* WeChat Official Accounts Service Accounts can create "Mini Programs" which are rich integrations and tightly integrate with your linked WeChat Payments account, for example:
1. Didi Chuxing for Ridesharing (Uber)
2. Mobike for Bike Rental (Lime Bike etc)
3. Meituan Dianping for e-commerce and food delivery
4. Douban, Yishenghuo, Yoopay etc for Event / Concert Tickets (think Eventbrite, Ticketmaster)
WeChat is also, and by large, a financial service. Payment and transfer is happening all the time on this platform, and to replace that is a magnitude difficult than just replace the chat.
Site is running slow, here's an archive: https://archive.is/w1HMt
What WeChat/Facebook are today is highly path-dependent hence you don’t get to replicate that, and your intelligence and ambition probably won’t let you either.
Stop try to replace them, build sth different and help people in a new and better way. With that, you might be able to transcend them.
* TON blog: https://ton-telegram.net/news/telegram-and-sec-asked-to-spee...
* nice summary of how US securities law affected TON (from October 2019): https://davidgerard.co.uk/blockchain/2019/10/13/sec-blocks-t...
* verdict in the case: https://www.reuters.com/article/legal-us-otc-telegram/sec-wi...
Some investors are considering launching independent blockchain based on open-sourced TON technology. But even if they do, it's not clear when is Telegram going to integrate wallet with their app, if ever.
I'm very biased (active developer in Telegram ecosystem), but I'm having a hard time imagining Durov letting this SEC case stop him.
Even if he has to return all the funds, I'm confident he will still push forward and bring TON and Grams into production.
It's less of a straight path, but Durov's smart and stubborn - two valuable traits in this circumstace.
Instead of cloning wechat, an alternative would be developing a proxy between IM apps, i.e. all wechat messages can be forwarded to whatsapp so it become part of whatsapp, well, kind of, it's painful to use whatsapp, LINE, telegram, wechat at the same time, need something to "unite" them so we can go to one place and do it all.
...honestly most of the open chat protocols end up with bridges since it's easier to do there than with the proprietary ones. WhatsApp for example will ban you if they see you trying to connect with a third-party client; using the Matrix bridge actually involves running Android with the official client in a VM.
Wechat was doing 1 billion transactions PER DAY. Revenue for 2019 from fintech (wechat pay etc) was up something like 30% + (100B RMB?)
All these competitors "catching up" to wechat - I mean, is line even profitable or at similar scale?
I think there are also apps and other stuff there too. It's more like a chat app that became an ecommerce and mini-app platform.
I wouldn't say that those are all extremely well integrated with each other.