WeChat, the messaging app owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, has chalked up 70 million overseas users, adding about 20 million users in less than two months amid aggressive marketing efforts to promote the service globally.

In May, Tencent revealed that WeChat had 50 million users based outside China – from a user base that was approaching over 400 million with 195 million monthly active users.

The company noted that strong markets for WeChat include India, Malaysia, Mexico and the Philippines. It also has a presence in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. As a sign of its stepped-up marketing efforts, Tencent has been tying up with celebrities to create television advertisements in several markets – and its latest TV commercial launched today features football star Lionel Messi, which will be aired in 15 countries.

Tencent has been pushing its chat app overseas as rivalry heats up in the sector, with many Asian messaging apps trying to grow their international presence even as WhatsApp is continuing to grow at an impressive rate – it recently revealed that it processed 27 billion messages over a 24 hour period. WeChat’s competitors include Kakao Talk from Korea (which just yesterday passed 100 million users) and Line from Japan, which has a registered user base of more than 150 million.

In late May, Tencent said it would open a branch office in Malaysia to further localize WeChat by collaborating with local firms and celebrities. But with most its Asian competitors adding on monetization services such as selling stickers and games on their platforms, it has been expected that WeChat will also start making moves in that area – and it was recently revealed that Tencent has already been conducting final in-house tests before it introduces payments to WeChat.

Headline image via faykwong / Flickr