Payments: The Future of Chat Apps

Single-function applications are quickly becoming an outdated product. The future is in consolidating functions to create more robust applications for users.

An Outdated Service

As with all new advancements in technology, things we find commonplace have a way of becoming outdated. Many advertisers swore the internet was a fad and the yellow pages would reign supreme as the sole method of finding businesses, they were wrong.

In the same way, many applications believe they are the end-all to their sector and won’t have any competition they can’t handle. However, particularly for apps, users are constantly shifting their attention. Nothing is a guarantee because the only certainty is that people, like the market, are constantly changing.

As such, we predict the future for chat applications lies in integrating payments functions to their platforms. Why? Simply because we’ve already seen the results of this in the East. In Asia, cash is quickly evolving from “king” to “an awkward alternative.”

1. WeChat – The New “King” of China

The Chinese giant WeChat was launched by Tencent Technologies as a more-robust app to rival its own, already successful, QQ messenger. This new product took the world by storm when it decided to integrate a currency wallet that allowed users to link their bank cards to the app.

Users were skeptical at first, as was to be expected. Nevertheless, in just a few years the norm shifted from “I’m a bit worried about introducing my bank information into this app” to “you’re not using WeChat pay yet, really? You’re seriously missing out.”

Today, it’s hard to find a store, or any person for that matter, that would rather accept cash than a quick and convenient phone payment. After all, with the digital record your phone provides, you can easily track how much you’re spending, receiving, and to or from whom the funds were transferred.

What makes this even more impressive is that WeChat has already expanded its reach to service Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and is continuing to spread into the rest of Southeast Asia. It’s currently rivaled only by Alibaba’s AliPay, an app that makes phone payments just as easy as WeChat, however, this alternative still falls short as it doesn’t support all the same chat features that WeChat has.

2. Line

With over 50 million registered users, the Japanese messaging giant Line is quickly rising to be another superstar of messaging in Asia. Though neither WeChat nor Line have made much progress in garnering the Western markets, they’ve done a really great job of enamoring their users in the East.

Line’s unique selling point for a long time was their vast collection of quirky stickers. Now, they’re quickly adapting to the times and offering payments solutions for their users (Line Pay), not only in Japan, but also in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand.

This support began with the issuance of Line’s own payments card, Line Card. People holding this card could use it to pay at brick and mortar shops in Japan, as it’s a JCB card. Now, they’ve even partnered with Visa to expand the reach of cards for users.

Consequently, the Japanese government has publicly stated their intention of evolving Japan into a primarily cashless society, in the same way China has successfully accomplished. The app is still miles behind WeChat, however, and still needs more widespread adoption from the market before they can thrive the same way.

3. Sidekick

Probably the most likely sector that would need an app that allows users to message and transfer payments is the blockchain and its cryptocurrency sector, virtually demanding the same functionality. Apps like Sidekick are already developing that very solution.

To allow its users the ability of not only local payments on POS devices but also global payments, Sidekick is developing a platform that integrates payments with messaging and its own native marketplace. In this way swiftly disrupting the three sectors by bringing them into a single platform with global reach.

Already in their in-house testing phases, Sidekick will provide a long-awaited solution to users worldwide that wish to chat, send payments, and purchase goods and services with their cryptocurrency tokens. Beyond that, however, it’s important to note that they’re also helping the crypto space take a massive leap towards greater adoption by simplifying the use of the digital assets. This app is definitely on our wishlist and we look forward to their official launch in 2020.

4. A Few Honorable Mentions

Though we briefly touched on apps like AliPay, that allow users to make easy payments with the scan of their phone, we won’t be getting into detail on these because they don’t actually integrate messaging the way these other apps have.

Nevertheless, apps like ApplePay and SamsungPay are also pioneers in the space of phone payments and it’s worth noting their efforts are also part of the reason why cash is quickly becoming a rarity and digital payments will eventually replace these transactions.

The Natural Evolution of Apps

Though WeChat is probably the most successful case of payments integration on a chat applications, there are others. Apps that we didn’t mention here like Snapchat, Facebook, Google, etc. are also testing methods in which they can integrate payments on their platforms too.

Any company that understands the demands of its users sees that in the near future the oddity will be a messaging platform that doesn’t accept payments. Therefore, “adapt or die” is an adequate representation of the level of competition we’re now seeing in the app-space.

What’s most interesting is the way it works a bit like democracy, users will continue to actively use the apps that serve their demands. If an app doesn’t adapt, users will shift to the “next best thing” that does. It’s an empowering time for the user. The question now is, where will you shift your attention next?

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