WeChat is testing a new feature that allows users to register multiple accounts using one phone number. If this is implemented fully, it would provide a way to separate their personal WeChat account from professional applications and communications.
The feature is still being tested and is available to a small cluster of users. Currently, secondary accounts have limited functionality, and do not include widely used features like WeChat Pay. WeChat didn’t reveal when this function will be broadly available.
Since late 2017, users have had to verify their phone numbers when signing up for WeChat, and each contact number could only be tied to one WeChat account. That means for most people in China, especially young white-collar workers, work and personal usage is blended on one interface.
The alternative account feature could be a way for WeChat to better engage with its users. With “walled gardens” collapsing, the internet giant is dissolving some of its digital barriers by allowing links to rival apps to be posted on WeChat feeds. A rollout of secondary account functionality would fit the idea of giving users some control over how they manage their online presence.
Grueling 996 work schedules—9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., six days a week, with expectation for overtime—have come to define the office culture of many companies, including those in the tech sector. Younger Chinese people have opted to “lie flat” and abandon the rat race. Many have placed a strong emphasis on self-care. In late August, a wellness app called Flow, which focuses on emotion management and anxiety alleviation received a multimillion-dollar angel investment.
Originally built as an instant messenger in 2011, WeChat has since grown into a super app with 1.09 billion daily active users. It is an integral part of life in China. The app has utility in all sorts of scenarios, including daily operations like online food orders, as well as functions to book appointments at medical clinics or for divorce registrations.