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Discover WeChat and Axa’s Asia lab

  • Clock logoMarch 15, 2017
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An analysis of the new technologies and uses that are about to transform the Insurance industries.


China is no longer just a contender… it’s a frontrunner. WeChat and Axa’s Asia lab. 

Convinced of the Chinese breakthrough, Frank Desvigne, Axa’s Asia lab founder – active in Shanghai since 2015 – and Digital Transformation Officer, explains why the leading French Insurance company created an outpost in this part of the world which, he discloses, has become an innovation hub, namely because of Tencent and its “Star App” WeChat.

A conviction that The Social Client, Group Acticall’s digital consulting agency, has been advocating for over 7 years: “we’ve been observing China’s evolution from e-commerce to m-commerce for a long time, and carefully watching WeChat. Far more than an App or a Social Network, this integrated multi-platform has torn down every barrier to genuinely become an OS where the applications are 3 to 5 years ahead of anything we have in France”, stresses Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne, the agency’s associate founder.

An observation that Frank Desvigne echoes in his definition of WeChat as a survival kit for the entire Chinese population and the catalyst of a revolution that’s arriving on the West’s front steps. “We mustn’t understand WeChat simply through the Customer Experience prism, but as a whole that will enable us to reinvent our industry entirely.”

WeChat: more than 845 Million daily users

As a platform that offers at thumb’s length a messaging service, social network, method of payment, purchase, reservation, dating… WeChat registers 845 million users in China, in other words almost as many as Facebook users everywhere in the world combined. It represents a huge market, untapped by Facebook, and which the American social network ambitions to claim. However, ironically, the facts prove otherwise. 

“Innovation is bursting out of China”, remarks Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne, “WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, Skype, Uber, Tinder… all the major western m-economy leaders are imitating WeChat’s development strategy and China’s behavioral ecosystem”.

All eyes on China

The numbers that Frank Desvigne delivers speak for themselves: “574 million smartphone users; 900 million Alipay users (Alibaba’s mobile payment solution) handling 926 transactions per second; 215 billion transactions (a 2050% increase from 10 billion in 2012). The Alibaba-WeChat duopoly is dominating m-commerce with 49% of transactions completed through AliPay and 21% through WeChat.”

Whereas the West is reluctant to rid itself of credit cards, dematerialized payments have completely taken off in Asia. Online purchases during “Singles’ Day” – China’s equivalent to the American “Black Friday” – generated $17,8 billion over 24h, a 32% increase from last year, against $12,8 billion made in the United-States over 5 days.

Converging all-into-one 

Amazon’s business model is based on eliminating all intermediaries in order to deal with everything itself, directly with its clients. Alibaba does the exact opposite by converging in one place every element of the production chain. “Chinese m-commerce allies and therefore accelerates every commercial and social interaction, like a giant marketplace where brands and brands, customers and customers, brands and customers all interact, all at once, thus boosting the influence that customers have over companies”, highlights Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne.

Now, David Marcus is multiplying initiatives to make Messenger a CRM platform toward which everything converges, similarly to WeChat: with the Send to Messenger feature and a chatbot “store” in April 2016 – akin to what WeChat had already launched back in 2013 – and a payment solution introduced 4 years after the Chinese giant. Microsoft, Google, Twitter have started over the past year following suit.

Let's discover our article on the 2017 major trends for customer relations.

Asian inspiration

“China and all of Asia are on the brink of becoming the world’s biggest driving forces in terms of digital development.”, explains Frank Desvigne. The evolution taking place confirms what Arnaud de Lacoste had predicted at last year’s European Customer Day in Paris, namely the demise of Apps and the advent of chatbots: “Tech adoption rates are accelerating at a staggering speed, and predicting the end of technologies devoted to a single use. A mobile mono-interface capable of doing absolutely everything within a single conversational thread will replace our patchwork of Apps. This huge paradigm shift will ‘disrupt’ the customer relations industry and we’ll have to adapt our business culture and prepare our advisors accordingly”.

Waiting is not an option.

Messaging app… turned social network… turned wallet… turned business portal… WeChat has morphed into an unavoidable survival kit for the entire Chinese population and its wildly successful development lays out a roadmap for the West to follow.


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