This article was written by Adinah Brown from Leverate.
The envy of Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat, WeChat has become the one-stop-digital-shop in China, enabling all sorts of activities, from payment transactions to broadening your social network, as a tracking device to a TV guide.
WeChat is now the regular daily point of contact to the world. As one Western venture capitalist put it: “People who travel from China to the West, complain that leaving WeChat behind makes them feel like they’re going back in time.”
FX industry takes notice
Seeing its enormous potential, the online investment trading industry has been quick to take advantage of the full range of services and benefits provided through WeChat. FX brokerage firms such as FXTM, FXOpen and Fortex are just a few of the many that have started to incorporate WeChat’s automated systems into their business operations.
Igal Schnirmacher, the Asia Pacific Operations Manager at Leverate, commented: “WeChat automation systems that facilitate the development of push notification and systems designed to activate clients, holds great interest.”
Schnirmacher then went on to identify three areas of broker management that are conducive to incorporating WeChat; facilitating payment transactions, CRM integration and most significantly, marketing and acquisition.
Marketing and acquisition
For those brokers hoping to penetrate the Chinese market, there is no doing it without WeChat. By maintaining a presence on WeChat, you are automatically accessing a potential audience of the 846 million people who use it. Of this audience, more than a third of the time that they spend on the internet, is spent on WeChat. All in all, making it an extremely powerful marketing tool.
A broker is able to establish an official account either as a subscription account, service account or enterprise account. WeChat’s official service accounts can detect user location, making it an ideal tool for location-based marketing. For example, you can promote your trading services in a directory of online brokerages operating within one particular exchange or province.
Those with official accounts can push daily content to their WeChat subscribers, but more so than that there is the functionality to customize content to the wishes of subscribers. Subscribers can put in key terms such as “technical analysis” or “USD” and only get posts related to those news items.
Fostering customer engagement
Much like social media, the chat function of WeChat also facilitates greater customer engagement. Brokers can engage with their audience on particular topics, such as the rise of cryptocurrencies. Whilst engaging on the topic, WeChatters could check the trading charts of currencies in the broker’s official account and then access the platform via WeChat to place a trade.
The most common practice used by brokers to attract potential leads via WeChat is by joining group chat forums. The forums, which often range in size from 50 to 500 members, will come together to share pictures, stories or gift money to each other.
In this social context, a broker may share a picture with a QR code, the traders will then extract the QR code which will then send them via a link to the broker’s landing page, effectively launching a trader into the broker’s acquisition funnel.
Facilitating payment transactions
In China, approximately half of all sales that are transacted over the internet take place via mobile phones. As a point of comparison, that percentage in America is around one third. China has a technology environment where business models are built around mobile phones and customers who are willing, even eager, to experiment.
Playing its part in all this, users can have their bank account details or their credit card details connected to WeChat-Pay and WeChat-Wallet, which will facilitate payment both to online and mama-papa vendors alike. The robust and varied capabilities of WeChat effectively make it look like PayPal on steroids, possessing the functionality of Apple Wallet, Amazon, Slack, Skype and Facebook all rolled into one.
To think that it was once just a chat service appears to be an endless source of speculation for the Chinese. Many more see its value in contributing to a cashless economy. While still the dream of our internet age in the west, Wechat users go through their day without ever having to pull out plastic cards, let alone cash.
To get to this point, more than half of WeChatters have been persuaded to connect their financial details to the app. A significant achievement considering that culturally, China is a distrustful society and with all the scamming and cyber-crime on the internet, they have legitimate reason to be.
However, Tencent, the parent company of WeChat, was able to convince the crowds, through a combination of its trusted brand, a robust malware security system and sophisticated password authentications (the most recent being face recognition).
Imagine a seamless integration between your brokerage’s CRM and your client’s Facebook account, where all the details held on Facebook about your clients automatically flow, on the click of a button, on to your CRM. Well, with WeChat it’s a case of ‘been there, done that’.
Brokers with an official account on WeChat are already collecting personal customer data that enables them to craft personalized content to target consumers. All sounds too good to be true, but there are additional features as well, such as managing VIP events and then sending out invitations over the chat function, facilitate client trading abroad, and the ability to monitor CRM efficiency through a backend dashboard.
Many argue that it is the seamless integration that sets WeChat above its Western counterparts. The enhanced integration has made the access of services so much smoother, it has significantly shortened the marketing funnel, enriched the information fields of the broker’s CRM, brings both acquisition and registration together, in just one click of approval by the trader and then enables a reverse flow of communication to the trader’s WeChat.
Yet others attribute the app’s wide range of success to the vast scale of adoption, which is perhaps only possible to do in China. The technology behind WeChat is not inherently complex or sophisticated, rather it is the multifaceted integration at so many different points by a collective group of millions of people, which make it so outstanding. And it is this power of adoption that makes WeChat a force still to be reckoned with by the West.