Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has reached an agreement with Mface, an up-and-coming social network in Southeast Asia, to help take its MiTalk messaging service overseas, Tencent Tech reports.

MiTalk, which is available on iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Phone and PC, is believed to have over 23 million registered users, up from 17 million last summer. The bulk of its user base is from mainland China, but the service has picked up a number of users overseas.

Xiaomi has been preparing to enter Southeast Asia with its smartphones in coming months, so a partnership to concurrently expand its MiTalk service could help lend momentum. A new version of MiTalk localized for the region will reportedly arrive before the Chinese New Year holiday in early February.

According to Tencent Tech, Mface executive Benny Kau said his company would help promote the service in Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia with the aim of achieving 5 million users overseas within a year’s time.

Mface has reportedly agreed to help with marketing and operations for MiTalk, while Xiaomi will take responsibility for research and development on the product.

Xiaomi is one of the hottest startups in China right now. It raised $216 million last year at a $4 billion valuation. The company sold over 7 million handsets last year for revenue of about $2 billion (RMB 12.6 billion).

MiTalk, however, is coming from behind to compete with rival messaging apps. With 300 million users, Tencent’s WeChat dwarfs Xiaomi’s offering by more than a factor of 10. Japan’s Line, which recently entered China, has over 100 million users.

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