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Tencent to boost development of WeChat app

Updated: 2013-03-12 11:07
By Qiu Quanlin ( China Daily)

Tencent Holding Ltd, a Shenzhen-based provider of Internet services, will speed up the commercialization process of its popular WeChat messaging application as part of its global expansion strategy, the company's top manager said.

Ma Huateng, Tencent's CEO, said the company is planning to build an open platform so that Internet service developers are able to provide more features for WeChat users.

"We are developing value-added services for the application, especially in the mobile social contacts and online games sectors," Ma, who is also a deputy from Shenzhen, said during the annual session of National People's Congress in Beijing.

WeChat, which is similar to the United States' WhatsApp and to some other mobile apps, enables users to chat via text messages, voice and video on their mobile devices as long as they have a Web connection.

WeChat opened a group purchase service this month, and the application will add more value-added services in the near future, according to Ma.

"It's a very complicated process to develop services for WeChat, given that it involves a lot of work in online and offline integration. We're determined to cooperate with other Internet service providers to build a business model," Ma said.

Tencent to boost development of WeChat app

Industry insiders said that Tencent has vast potential to develop more services affiliated with the brand and can increase its global market presence, given that it registered fast growth in revenue in recent years.

Sources with the company said that its sales revenue reached 11.6 billion yuan ($1.9 billion) in the third quarter of last year, up 54.3 percent year-on-year.

With a growing number of WeChat users at home and abroad, Tencent is moving ahead with its overseas expansion plans. It has set up an office in the US, the first overseas unit of its kind, to boost the development of WeChat.

"We're facing a big challenge in the overseas market, especially in the US. Many mobile apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have a strong local presence. We are studying US users' habits and cooperating with local developers to provide different experiences for overseas users," Ma said.

In a motion submitted to the National People's Congress, Ma said that Chinese Web companies are ready to expand overseas after nearly two decades of development.

"China has developed a number of large Internet companies such as Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu and Sina, which are very competitive in the global market," Ma said.

In the government's work report presented at the opening of the annual NPC session, Premier Wen Jiabao said that China will expand its investments overseas and will back Chinese companies' global expansion ambitions to create a new space for economic development.

"A growing number of Chinese companies in the manufacturing industry have opened businesses overseas during the past several years. China needs to further expand its overseas investments by encouraging more businesses engaged in the services industry, especially in the information and communication technologies, to invest in foreign markets," Ma told China Daily.

The global expansion by Chinese Web companies will help increase the value of China's services trade in the international market.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the services industry currently accounts for nearly 70 percent of the global economy, but China still has a trade deficit in the services sector.

"More investments in the overseas market from China's Internet companies will help reduce the country's services trade deficit," Ma said.