For the first time, we are used to thinking of WeChat as the English name of Weixin (微信). However, Weixin is the version for mainland users, while WeChat is designed for overseas users, and they don’t belong to the same system or servers. Actually, they are actually two separate entities, targeting two different user groups in the way of accessible contents and features. To make it simple, you can see Weixin and WeChat as two different versions of the same app.
We are going to list some key differences:
Regions and Markets
Firstly, Weixin and WeChat target different user groups in different regions. Weixin operates in mainland China while WeChat serves overseas users.
When users go to the App Store and download the app, the version is determined, whether it is the Chinese version or the international one, by your phone number at your first login. You get Weixin if your phone number is based in mainland China (+86). If not, you get the international version, WeChat.
Wallet and the Cards and Offers
As compared to Weixin, WeChat doesn’t have the Wallet and the Cards and Offers functions. And these two functions are normally used by businesses or individuals for mobile payment, sending or receiving coupons or tickets, bounding electronic membership or VIP cards in China mainland. They are the entrance of the money transactions and important tools for brands to provide benefits to their customers.
The Wallet function allows users to complete various kinds of transactions:
- Making QR Code payment.
- Giving Red Packets (红包; red packets are monetary gifts which are given during holidays to friends or relatives in China, and Weixin made this tradition virtual and mobile) to friends and so on.
- Transferring from banks or to friends.
- Purchasing movie tickets.
The Official Accounts
the official WeChat accounts are also different from the official Weixin account.
Since Weixin and WeChat are using different servers, the data of these two versions are stored in two different places. If you registered your official account through WeChat international version, then your account will not be seen or subscribed by a Weixin mainland user, and due to the strict censorship regulations, the China mainland Weixin users cannot join any campaigns launched by your official account resisted with WeChat international.
Therefore, foreign marketers need to distinguish the two different versions of official accounts.
- There is one way that you can differentiate the two versions by looking at the URLs of the official account backend.
To register an official account that works for mainland users, you should go to : https://mp.weixin.qq.com/.
For an official account that targets users outside mainland China, you should go to : https://admin.wechat.com.
- For those targeting mainland users, they need to register an official Weixin account, and then go through the official procedures for activation and verification. By doing so, the account will be searchable and available to potential mainland customers, so they can promote their brands and products to these mainland users.
Other functions also differ relatively slightly between the two apps. For example, the game centers in different regions show different games.