Tencent’s WeChat, one of China’s leading data companies, might be easier in sharing data with the government compared to its Western competitors, says WeChat expert Matthew Brennan. But when it comes to sharing data with marketeers, the company is way more restrictive, he tells in Harvard Political Review.
One of the app’s most popular features is WeChat Pay, a mobile payment service. WeChat Pay has “grown organically from micropayments to offline payments” as phones have replaced wallets in major Chinese cities, according to Matthew Brennan, WeChat expert and founder of the platform’s largest marketing conference. WeChat is betting on its nearly 200 million WeChat Pay users to expand its ecommerce services to include full-fledged mobile banking, a potential threat to state-owned and traditional banks.
With a vast amount of data at stake, critics have often called WeChat’s privacy policies into question. According to Brennan, “In terms of government access to data in China, there’s government access if they [the government] request such access.” This policy applies not only to WeChat, but also to other Chinese platforms. However, Tencent is more restrictive than many U.S. technology companies in sharing data with third parties, such as marketers. Furthermore, user data from WeChat app usage outside of China is routed through servers outside of the Chinese mainland, and therefore does not fall under Chinese legal jurisdiction.
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