How Much Does it Cost To Build an App Like WeChat?

Prateek Saxena April 30, 2024
WeChat app development cost

What started off as a messaging platform, WeChat quickly grew to become a one-stop-solution for both consumers and businesses. Built on the concept of super app, the software is a mix of several mini programs that practically nullifies the need to install different mobile applications by offering solutions around every digital need – gaming, booking services, making payment, and streaming etc. on one platform.

WeChat convenience and ease of use has made it the default app on 1.34 billion users’ smartphones – a majority of whom are based in China. For the rest of the world, the WeChat phenomenon has set an example of how a connected app ecosystem is what’s next for user experience – an event that has not gone unnoticed and is being pursued by tech giants like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerburg. The situation where we stand at today, it is only a matter of time before the application model will become a revolution in the US too.

Now before we dive into what it would take to build apps like WeChat, let’s look at the element that is the deciding factor for every aspiring entrepreneur – the cost to build a mobile app like WeChat.

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Cost Breakdown of WeChat App Development

Developing an app like WeChat, with features like messaging, social media integrations, mobile payments, and various other services, would involve several cost factors spread across design, development, and maintenance. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the expected costs:

1. Design Costs

Designing a visually appealing and user-friendly interface typically costs between $5,000 and $15,000. This includes creating wireframes, user flow diagrams, and final design prototypes.

2. Development Costs

The actual coding and setup of the app, including both frontend (user interface) and backend (server-side operations), generally cost between $20,000 and $150,000. This range depends on the complexity of the features and the geographic location of the development team.

Additionally, implementing features like in-app payments, chat functionalities, and social media feeds can increase the complexity and, consequently, the cost. For a feature-rich app like WeChat, you might expect to spend on the higher end of this range.

3. Quality Assurance

Ensuring the app works flawlessly across multiple devices and operating systems can cost between $10,000 and $25,000. This includes both manual and automated testing to catch and fix bugs before launch.

4. Maintenance and Updates

Apps like WeChat require continuous updates and improvements, especially to stay current with new mobile operating system updates and security patches. For the cost to build a mobile app like WeChat and then its ongoing maintenance, expect to spend around $1,000 to $5,000 per month on maintenance, depending on how frequently you update the app and how extensive those updates are.

5. Additional Costs

Depending on whether you use cloud services or manage your own servers, this can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 a month initially, which can increase as your user base grows. Moreover, depending on your location, incorporating elements like payment processing may require compliance with various regulations, adding to the initial setup and ongoing operational costs.

Cost typeEstimated cost to build a mobile app like WeChat
Design Costs$5,000 – $15,000
Development Costs$20,000 – $150,000
Quality Assurance$10,000 and $25,000
Maintenance and Updates$1,000 to $5,000
Additional Costs$500 to $2,000

Thus, the total estimated cost for developing and launching an app with the complexity and functionality of WeChat can be estimated in the range of $40,000 to $200,000.

This high-level WeChat app development cost is a range that comprises several interlinked elements – features, design system, technologies, and development team’s location. Let us look into all these elements to get you a holistic idea of what it would take to create a messaging app like WeChat.

[Also Read: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Super App?]

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Must-have Features of an App Like WeChat

The fact that the app made the concept of super app mainstream, it would be an understatement to say that apps like WeChat are built to be vast. The kind of features that the app comes with is constantly expanding.

Let us give you a brief of the functionalities that you can consider when you build an app like WeChat, but note that the final list would depend on the elements you find important in the MVP phase.

Extensive Features to Develop an App Like WeChat

Messaging and Calls

The most prominent part of WeChat app development is that it was built as a messaging and call platform and continues to be one. We recommend building an architecture which is end-to-end encrypted, enables text messaging, voice and video calls, group calls. Additionally, there can be features like media and document upload, AR filters for calls, timed chats, NSFW integrations to ensure users safety, etc.

In-App Payments

The app comes with a digital wallet which can be used to store money or do transactions both within the application and off it. Known as WeChat Pay, the function saves users from entering their financial information on different platforms, tracking expenses on multiple sources, or worrying about security.

In-App Stores

WeChat has several stores operating within the application, which enable users to purchase items from within the software. These stores can have a range of articles categorized according to their usage and type.

In terms of payment, the app gives users the option to choose their preferred payment mode – WeChat Pay, cards, cash etc. Moreover, it comes with a proper order management and tracking functionality to keep the experience at par with any eCommerce shopping experience.


The USP of WeChat and super apps in general is ‘mini programs’. These mini programs are several unrelated applications operative under one roof. Imagine being able to book a ride, order food, book movie tickets, plan trips, etc. without switching between multiple applications. Well it becomes possible when you build apps like WeChat.


Both users and businesses can create their WeChat Channel Account to broadcast their short form videos to an audience. It also comes with a Livestream function to conduct eCommerce sales without even leaving the platform. The feature also enables viewers to give the livestream channel gifts, which can then be redeemed as cash.


In essence, the moments feature is similar to Facebook’s News Feed. When you develop a mobile app like WeChat, this feature can be envisioned as a social media interface where users can view, like, and comment on their connections’ posts – photos and videos.

At Appinventiv, we suggest creating a secure architecture built on NSFW model which also has a strong moderation and report feature to ensure a safe social media experience.

In-App Games

WeChat application development also entails building in-app games. These games are usually simple (yet engaging) in nature, giving users a reason to spend more time within the application. They also typically work as an additional source of revenue by making app owners take a portion of money that users spend in buying in-game elements.

WeChat for Companies

What makes the app truly unique in the super apps space is its focus on the companies side of users. In your plan to invest in something like WeChat app development, you can also explore a feature similar to the ‘WeChat Official Account’.

The account grants companies the opportunity to get in touch with customers and promote their brand on the platform, create mini programs, work on an in-app CRM, and access WeChat Work – a messaging platform that can track working hours, manage emails, send announcements, etc.

WeChat Design System: Diving Into the Uniqueness of the App

Designing apps like WeChat will need you to dive into the concept of “everythingness”. The app, through its business model, has created an ever-expanding media ecosystem which touches every aspect of users’ daily activities. On the design system level, however, the app has maintained its simple and unattractive look since decades. WeChat rarely changes its logo to celebrate holidays or send admin notifications to users.

However, the lack of attention-grabbing design is actually intentional. Allen Xiaolong Zhang, WeChat’s founder emphasized that WeChat’s design principle is to “get users out of the app as fast as possible”. Zhang claims that to sustain users’ daily engagement in the long run, it’s crucial to let them leave the app as soon as possible. He believes that a low demand for time and effort is the key to bringing users back into the app without exhausting them.

WeChat app screens

Another aspect of the WeChat design system is how it makes it necessary for users to type in the service they are looking for, instead of giving them an easy to access list of “mini-programs”. While this works for the Chinese market which is predominantly accustomed to a simple interface, following the same design principle in the US market can be counterintuitive.

If you break down the different services entailing full-fledged WeChat application development and treat them as separate entities, you will get a list of applications already active or ruling the US space – Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Amazon, Chime, etc.

Now, these and similar apps have made the US audience accustomed to a certain experience and interface standard driven by the concept of intuitiveness and immersiveness. So if you plan to design a super app that combines these different applications under one umbrella, the experience should be in line with what they are used to.

With this, we have looked into two critical aspects that define the cost to build a mobile app like WeChat – Feature list and Design system. The third element that can bring a sharp shift in the chat app development pricing is the location of the chat app development company you choose to partner with. An agency working out of the US will charge anywhere between $100-$120 per hour while an India-based company will take $40-$80 per hour for the same efforts and quality.

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How to Build an App like WeChat?

To build an app like WeChat, which integrates messaging, social media, and financial transactions, you will need a comprehensive strategy and meticulous execution. Begin by defining the scope and features of your app, such as instant messaging, voice and video calls, digital payments, and integrated mini-programs. Conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience and pinpoint the unique solutions your app can provide.

During the design and development phase, prioritizing user experience is essential. Try to craft an intuitive interface that efficiently manages multiple functionalities. Now, collaborating with a skilled development team is crucial here as they will use cutting-edge technologies suitable for both front-end and back-end development. It’s also important to ensure your app is scalable, secure and performs well across all devices.

For more insights into mobile app development and expert advice, check out our blog on mobile app development. You will find detailed guides and best practices to help elevate your project from a concept to a market-ready product.

How Does Apps Like WeChat Make Money?

Apps like WeChat generate revenue through several strategies. These monetization methods have made the platform capitalize on a number of users by offering diverse offerings, increasing the overall user engagement. Let us look at the strategies in detail below:

Multiple Monetization Strategies Used by Super App Like WeChat


WeChat offers targeted advertising services that allows the businesses to reach millions of users as per their demographics and areas of interests.

In-App Purchases

The super app facilitates various transactions within its ecosystem, from games where users can buy virtual goods to mini-programs that sell actual products.

WeChat Pay

This payment service allows users to perform mobile transactions seamlessly. The app earns revenue using this model by charging a transaction fee on each payment made.

Subscription Services

Premium features like sticker packs or enhanced account functions can be accessed via premium subscriptions plans.


By hosting third-party services within its app, the app takes a cut of the revenue generated from these mini-programs.

Now that we have looked at the technical and monetary aspects of WeChat app development, let us touch upon something you must have heard or come across during research – low success rate of super apps in the US market and how to counter it to ensure your app’s success.

Dissecting the Low Success Rate of WeChat-like App in US Market and How to Break the Fate

Super apps like WeChat have seen tremendous success in various parts of the world, particularly in Asia. However, they haven’t replicated this success in the USA for several reasons:

  1. Market Structure and Competition: The U.S. digital market is highly segmented with specialized apps leading different sectors (e.g., Amazon for shopping, Uber for transportation, WhatsApp for messaging). This specialization forces new entrants like super apps to compete with established leaders in each category, which can be a significant challenge.
  2. Regulatory Environment: The U.S. has stringent regulations and compliances regarding data privacy and antitrust laws. Super apps, which consolidate vast amounts of personal data across various services, might face tougher scrutiny and regulatory challenges in the U.S. compared to other countries where data governance standards might be different.
  3. Cultural Preferences: U.S. consumers tend to prefer using different apps for different services, possibly due to concerns about privacy and data security. There is also a cultural aspect of customization and control over the services they use, which can be more limiting in a super app environment.
  4. User Behavior and Expectations: In the U.S., users are accustomed to apps that perform singular functions exceptionally well rather than multiple functions adequately. This preference aligns with the market structure of separate leaders in each app category.
  5. Late Entry: Super apps are relatively late entrants into the U.S. market where users already have established preferences and loyalties to existing apps. Changing these habits can be particularly difficult without a significant value proposition change.
  6. Technical and Integration Challenges: Integrating multiple services into one seamless experience is technically challenging. In the U.S., where each service category has a well-established leader, integration across these varied platforms can be more complex due to different standards, technologies, and user expectations.

Fighting these events to create a messaging app like WeChat and get similar response as China in the USA as well would require two things –

  1. Partnerships with companies that have a trusted audience
  2. Slow features scaling instead of a functionalities-rich application deployment.

At Appinventiv, we have partnered with two companies – eCommerce and Fintech – for their super app development projects focusing on the US audience. For both the projects our intent is same – build and deploy bundled services first and move to the next post user acceptance assurance. Moreover, we are working on a reward system to help users get a good value add from the time they spend in the app.

We are positive that the approach will give the user base time and reason to accept this new revolutionary business model.

Need help with your super app vision? Get in touch with us – a social media app development company trusted for converting innovative ideas into viral products.


Q. How to develop a messaging app like WeChat?

A. Developing a messaging app similar to WeChat will need you to work on a mindset that the version will be more extensive than a simple messaging functionality – that is where the USP of the app lies at. However, you can start the development journey with the messaging feature with the intent of scaling later, by following these stages –

  • Drafting a user persona
  • Running extensive market research
  • Finalizing the features and technologies combination
  • Designing an immersive interface
  • Developing a feature-rich application

Q. How much does it cost to build a mobile app like WeChat?

A. The WeChat app development cost – if you plan to build an exact replica of the product – can be anywhere between $40,000 to $200,000. However, we recommend taking a phase wise approach where you slowly scale the application by introducing features gradually. This would give users ample time to get accustomed to the model and eventually replace their specific applications with your product.

Q. How much time does it take to build an app like WeChat?

A. The timeframe to develop an app like WeChat generally varies as per the overall app complexity. For instance, a simple app with minimal features may take around 5 to 6 months. On the other hand, a highly complex app with an extensive feature set and functionalities can take around 9 to 12 months, on average.

Prateek Saxena
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