Note: In our articles on this blog, we generally refer to Weixin, the China-based version of WeChat by its English name WeChat. We’ve done this for the practical purpose of being more understandable to native English speakers and readers who are familiar with WeChat. However, there are two versions of WeChat, one for users based in mainland China and one for users based in other locations. To distinguish between the two versions in this article, we will refer to the mainland-based version as Weixin and the international version as WeChat.
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.
Therefore, foreign marketers need to distinguish the two different versions of official accounts. 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.
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. ↑ The website interface of the backend of official Weixin account (mp.weixin.qq.com) ↑ The website interface of the backend of official WeChat account (admin.wechat.com)
For instance, Weixin users can pay for taxis and hotels with their Weixin wallet, either using their bankcards or wallet balance transferred from their bank accounts or from red packets given by their friends. Nonetheless, WeChat users in foreign regions don’t have the wallet function shown in the WeChat interface before authentication, and only have limited functions displayed even after authentication. The ability to use the wallet outside of China is generally rather limited, except in South Africa. ↑ If WeChat users want to open the red packets and receive the money inside, they need to finish authentication first.
The rationale behind it is that the Wallet functions of WeChat and Weixin are operated in different regions, namely the “China wallet region” and “Foreign wallet region”. As the two regions use different currencies and have different financial regulations, WeChat and Weixin depend on different third-party payment systems. Even though WeChat users activate their wallet functions, they still could neither transfer money from their foreign bank accounts to their WeChat Wallets, nor withdraw money from their WeChat Wallets. Moreover, the services provided in the Wallet function for WeChat users and Weixin users are different as well, with Weixin users having more options. For foreigners who live in China or have the willingness to do business with mainland Chinese people, getting a Weixin account would make it more convenient. ↑ Compared to the money-related services provided for WeChat users (above), Weixin users have more options (below).