Released by Chinese web giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat is the largest standalone messaging app in the world by monthly users, with more than 500 million people, primarily in China, using the app on a r

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I just moved to Beijing. This is my experience with mobile payments
“You might not have to make that trip to the bank after all,” Rob, a friend, messaged me over WeChat the other day. He attached a press release saying Alipay had launched an international version of its mobile payments platform for visitors to China. Named “Tour Pass,” the app can be used for up to 90 days and could prove handy for me, as I had moved from Hong Kong to Beijing for three months just over a month ago. The last time I lived in Beijing, five years ago while studying at Peking University, cash was still currency, shared bikes did not exist and people did not have their morning Starbucks delivered via an app. Since then China has transformed into an almost cashless society at an ex
I just moved to Beijing. This is my experience with mobile payments
Will tourists in China wake up to mobile payments?
Last week, China’s main payment apps, Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant Financial’s Alipay, opened their mobile payment systems to a demographic that had previously been left out: international tourists.  In China, mobile payments are used to pay for almost everything from $0.25 steamed buns at a takeout joint to sending prisoners money, highlighting the huge gap that exists between this system and the payment habits of 140 million annual tourists from overseas, who may be more used to cash or credit cards. Inkstone is owned by Alibaba, whose affiliate Ant Financial operates Alipay.  But will providing access be enough to convert tourists to start scanning QR codes?  How does mobile payments work
Will tourists in China wake up to mobile payments?
How WeChat users unwittingly aid censorship
Chinese messaging app WeChat relies on the input of unwitting users to autonomously expand its blacklist of sensitive images, according to a new study by a Canadian internet watchdog group. Research released this week by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab focused on how WeChat, owned by tech giant Tencent and boasting an active monthly user base of more than 1 billion people, uses a number of censorship mechanisms to screen picture files sent between users in one-to-one and group chats. The study found that the app, without requiring human involvement, can expand its own blacklist of prohibited images by subjecting files to both real-time and retroactive analyses. “Users using the platf
How WeChat users unwittingly aid censorship
Inkstone index: China’s super app
1 billion: the number of active WeChat accounts. When Apple launched the App Store and began offering apps for all the tasks you can conceivably accomplish on your phone, the American company’s trademarked slogan was, “There’s an app for that.” In China, things are a bit different. You can do more or less everything using just one mega-app: WeChat. The app is China’s most prominent social platform, packed with features like food delivery, travel booking and ride-hailing. You can, of course, use WeChat to pay for things, or even give out red envelopes, digital cash gifts commonly handed out during Lunar New Year. WeChat in China is as prevalent as Facebook is in the United States, and it arg
Inkstone index: China’s super app
What China’s censors didn’t want people to see in 2018
From the banning of books during the Cultural Revolution to the online erasure of John Oliver after he mocked Chinese leader Xi Jinping, information censorship in China is old news. But a look at what has been censored provides a glimpse into the ruling Communist Party’s sensitivities and what narratives it wanted to control for any given period. According to research published this week, the US-China trade war was one of the most censored topics last year on China’s wildly popular WeChat app. Among the top 10 most censored topics, three were related to the flaring tensions between the United States and China: the prolonged trade war, US sanctions against ZTE and the arrest of Huawei’s chie
What China’s censors didn’t want people to see in 2018
Chinese tourists are ditching spending for selfies
Forget doing it for the ’gram. A growing number of Chinese tourists are doing it for the ’chat – specifically WeChat, the ubiquitous app that functions as WhatsApp, Facebook and Apple Pay combined. In the past, Chinese tourists had a reputation for their voracious appetite for luxury goods. But increasingly, more are choosing unique “social experiences” over shopping malls and boutiques, a new study by management consultancy Oliver Wyman has found. Chinese people spent $258 billion in 2017 on overseas travel – the most of any nation, according to the World Tourism Organization. That means any change in how Chinese travelers spend money has a significant impact on the global tourism industry.
Chinese tourists are ditching spending for selfies
The story of China’s everything app
WeChat isn’t just the Chinese version of WhatsApp. It’s so much more: an app that allows you to do everything from play games, to read the news, pay for meals… even make an appointment to file for divorce. With more than one billion monthly active user accounts, it’s not an overstatement to say that WeChat is an indispensable part of everyday life in China. But in the last few months investors have been questioning whether Tencent, the behemoth owner of the ubiquitous app, has lost its mojo – worries borne out by the company's recent lackluster earnings, announced yesterday. Here’s how WeChat went from simple messenger to China’s most popular mobile app. Humble start WeChat, or Weixin as it’
The story of China’s everything app
Google tests the waters in China with a drawing game
With most of its services blocked in China, Google is trying to find its way back in – and it’s treading lightly. The American tech giant on Wednesday launched its first app on the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat, a drawing game called Caihua Xiaoge – which roughly translates to “Pictionary with Google.” It is Google’s latest attempt to make inroads in China after the company was pretty much banished from the Chinese internet in 2010, when it stopped censoring search results. The move underscores the pull of the massive and growing Chinese market, and the predicament that Chinese censorship presents foreign companies. To quote John Oliver, China “is a gigantic and consequential
Google tests the waters in China with a drawing game
A Chinese baby for sale for $9,000 on social media
For sale: a healthy baby boy. Six people have been arrested in central China after claims that a newborn baby boy was offered for sale on social media for 60,000 yuan ($9,200), according to a police statement. An investigative report by the Xiaoxiang Morning Post was the first to point the finger at a group based in the city of Yiyang, Hunan province, which it accused of running a human trafficking operation via the popular messaging platform WeChat. According to the newspaper article, the group posted a message in mid-June that offered “a newborn, healthy boy” for sale. Anyone interested in buying him should “please come to Hunan, Yiyang quickly.” The post was accompanied by two videos of a
A Chinese baby for sale for $9,000 on social media
Why the Aussie defense department just banned WeChat
Australian officials are cutting ties to China’s most popular social media platform. Staff members at Australia’s Department of Defence are no longer allowed to download and use the WeChat app on their work phones. The department confirmed the ban with the Australian Financial Review, saying that it does not “provide or support the use of unauthorized software.” The department has not replied to a request for comment from Inkstone. Owned by Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent, WeChat is an all-in-one app, combining the features of Facebook and WhatsApp as well as an electronic payment system. It now has one billion monthly user accounts. Experts say it is not unusual for a defense departm
Why the Aussie defense department just banned WeChat