Originally published in China Daily on 14 March 2018 by Angus McNeice.
A group of businesses and local authorities in Manchester has hired a tech consultancy company to help make the northern city the United Kingdom’s most WeChat-friendly urban center.
Consultancy Thoughtworks is orchestrating a digital upgrade for Manchester, so Chinese people will eventually be able to book transport, buy soccer tickets, reserve hotels and make in-store purchases all on the WeChat mobile app, as they would in China.
Originally designed as a messaging app, WeChat has grown into a multipurpose digital platform that allows users to perform everyday tasks with their phones. WeChat has 963 million monthly active users, around 90 percent of which are Chinese.
In the photo: A Chinese traveler scanning a QR code to access the WeChat account of a department store
“Tens of thousands of Chinese people arrive in Manchester every year on business, to study, or just to visit the city, and most are using WeChat,” said Mark Collin, group director of Thoughtworks Ventures in Europe. “It’s the perfect way to interact with Chinese consumers, unlike Western apps and platforms which are much more fragmented. Whether it be interacting with students, investors or visitors, we need to do a better job of making Manchester a China-friendly city.” Thoughtworks is headquartered in the United States and has UK offices in London and Manchester.