What is WeChat?


Smartphones are even more indispensable in China than they are in the Western world. The WeChat app is especially popular, as journalist Caroline Buijs finds out when she meets up with her Chinese friend, Angie Guo.

During my visit to China, I meet up with an old colleague of mine, Angie. On our table in the restaurant where we have lunch is a QR code that Angie simply scans using the WeChat app on her smartphone, and the bill is paid.

What’s more, every street corner in Beijing has a row of orange or yellow rental bikes (a big difference from when I was here ten years ago, when bikes almost seemed to have disappeared from the streets) that you can rent via WeChat. All you need to do is scan the QR code under the saddle and the bike is unlocked and ready to go. Another great thing about these bikes is that you don’t have to put them back in the same place. For example: Angie can cycle to work in the morning and go home by taxi in the evening if it’s raining, rather than on the rental bike.

And she can order her taxi using her smartphone. In fact, she can use it for payments, to show her ID card, and to travel by bus and metro, to name just a few things.

Text Caroline Buijs  Photography Pim Chu / Unsplash.com