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WeChat

58pc of Hongkongers have WeChat account

Mobile messaging app’s usage growth has almost doubled in Asia-Pacific over the last year, says latest report

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 10:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 10:07pm

Over 58 per cent of Hongkongers now have a WeChat account, as the mobile messaging app continues to post strong growth in Asia-Pacific outside of China, according to a new report.

Excluding the Chinese mainland, WeChat’s usage growth has almost doubled in Asia-Pacific over the last year. WeChat’s 97 per cent usage growth surge was attributed to the app’s “versatility”, said GlobalWebIndex in its latest report on WeChat.

While the primary function of Tencent’s WeChat is mobile messaging, other functions on the platform include gaming, entertainment and payments.

In markets like Hong Kong and Malaysia, at least 60 per cent of existing WeChat users use the app daily.

“We were impressed, but not surprised, by WeChat’s impressive growth across APAC,” said Jason Mander, chief research officer at GlobalWebIndex. “The versatility of the service ... makes WeChat a popular choice in many diverse markets.”

WeChat’s growth has been particularly strong in countries such as South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with the fastest-growing market being Australia, where growth has increased by 284 per cent, according to GlobalWebIndex.

The report also found that 75 per cent of WeChat users in Asia-Pacific outside of China were younger than 34 years old, often shop online, and spend an average of 3.5 hours on the mobile internet every day.

We were impressed, but not surprised, by WeChat’s impressive growth across APAC. The versatility of the service ... makes WeChat a popular choice in many diverse markets
Jason Mander, chief research officer at GlobalWebIndex

WeChat, which is wildly popular in China with over 762 million users in the first quarter of 2016, first started its international expansion in 2013. It set up an office in the US and hired professional footballers such as Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar to star in television advertisements. The ads were screened in overseas markets in a bid to attract international users.

Last March, Tencent scaled back its WeChat international expansion plans to focus on improving its online-to-offline services and expanding its mobile advertising business.

WeChat’s built-in mobile wallet has also helped to drive China’s mobile payments industry.

WeChat Wallet, which is used by over 60 per cent of WeChat users in China, allows them to link their bank cards to the service and pay using their mobile phones in-store.

Tenpay, Tencent’s mobile payments technology that drives WeChat Wallet, has about 20 per cent of the Chinese mobile payments market.