WeChat Releases New Report on the QR Code Economy’s Fight Against COVID-19

Tencent’s WeChat, Tsinghua University’s Tsinghua China Data Center, and the Tencent Social Research Institute jointly released a report entitled “The 2020 Pandemic and the QR Code Economy Report”. The report points out that as an important part of the digital economy, the WeChat QR Code Economy has played an effective role in buffering the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first quarter, the WeChat QR Code economy increased by 25.86% in value from the prior year despite the difficult macroeconomic environment. During the pandemic period (including data from 2020 January 23 – May 6), government, businesses, and individuals used WeChat QR codes over 140 billion times in total, which on average helped each person save 29.2 hours.

The QR Code Economy is a new economic model that builds a ubiquitous digital connection between people, things, and places using convenient code-scans within the WeChat ecosystem comprised of WeChat Official Accounts, Mini Programs, WeChat Pay and WeChat Work.

From shopping, digital governance to entrepreneurship within the WeChat platform, the QR Code Economy permeates throughout economic and social operations with the concept of “making connection easier and technology more inclusive”. The scale of the QR Code Economy driven by WeChat in 2019 reached RMB 8.58 trillion, which generated 29.63 million employment opportunities in total.

The report points out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes have not only helped ensure the smooth flow of information, but also reduced the cost for pandemic prevention, and guided the optimal allocation of social resources. The pandemic has accelerated the digitalization processes within all areas of the society, and the QR Code Economy is set to grow in tandem with the demand for new digital infrastructure.

Here are some highlight numbers from the report:

(1)  The WeChat ecosystem now consists of 1.2 billion monthly active uers, over 20 million Official Accounts, more than 1 million Mini Programs with 400 million daily active users, over 1.5 million third-party developers, and 60,000 service providers.

(2)  Tencent Health Codes now cover nearly 1 billion people and have been shown more than 9 billion times in total, with 26 billion cumulative visits to the relevant mini programs.

(3)  More than 10 billion yuan worth of WeChat Pay Spending Vouchers have been announced or distributed by local governments including in Hunan, Zhejiang and Guangdong, which effectively helped to boost spending and help SMEs. In Wuhan alone, the vouchers have generated RMB 400 million worth of consumption in the past month, or 11.4 times the voucher value.

(4)  More than 45,000 municipal service Mini Programs were visited 5.4 billion times in total in 2019. Around 100 were newly added during the 2020 pandemic.

(5)  Nearly 800 healthcare-related Mini Programs were added during the pandemic, and category user number increased 347%. More than 1,000 hospitals handled 130,000 health queries via WeChat Work.

(6)  WeChat Mini Programs, which saw transaction value of over RMB 800 billion in 2019, helped businesses find new online revenue in the time of COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. In February, seven merchants recorded monthly sales of over RMB 100 million on their Mini Programs and some saw sales increases of 1100% compared with December.

(7)  WeChat Work’s multi-person conferencing tools helped enterprises resume work remotely and were used 220 million times. Some 100,000 schools, or 18.8% of the total in China, are using WeChat Work to reach out to parents totaling 50 million.

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