Understanding Banking via WeChat Diaries

Jocelyn Sie, Wei Eng Koh, Shamil Zainuddin, Graham Johnson


This paper describes the development and refinement of an existing chat application, China’s WeChat, as a remote diary tool, which researchers can employ to acquire a deeper understanding on their consumers whilst overcoming major geographical and time zone constraints. This research was part of a project to understand the experiences of Chinese consumers related to finance and banking. A diary study was conducted through WeChat and phone interviews to understand how consumers conduct their everyday financial transactions. The research illustrated the need to adapt approaches to diary participants, such as utilising a chat agent or avatar to elicit richer data, and demonstrated the utility of a feedback loop, which reassured and reminded participants to post regularly, in turn encouraging posts with more depth. The relationships built over the course of the diary study were also imperative to the success of follow-up semi-structured phone interviews, as trust and familiarity between researchers and participants enabled more intimate conversations. Novel use of the application worked well in gaining a deeper appreciation of the experiences of selected consumers. The paper adds to the growing literature on the use and adaptation of chat applications as a substitute for conventional mobile diary tools, and concludes with a list of key considerations for further applications in a similar research context.


remote research; methodology; ethnography; diary studies; avatar; mobile HCI; consumer experience; visual agent

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18517/ijaseit.6.6.1356


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Published by INSIGHT - Indonesian Society for Knowledge and Human Development