Buoyed by strong growth in Asia, Tencent is witnessing a shift in the demographics of its WeChat messaging app as international users are on the verge of toppling a majority that had been held by Chinese users, Tech in Asia reports.
Justin Sun, Tencent’s director of international WeChat operations, revealed the swing in an interview with the website. He said that We chat has “great potential to be popular internationally.” The surge in international users is recent, as just a few months ago, Chinese users were a dominant majority, he said.
Though he declined to provide specific numbers, Sun did mention that WeChat is focused on Asia, having identified “Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, [and] Vietnam” as strong markets. The company is also seeing adoption in Arabic-speaking countries and the US. We recently profiled WeChat as one of the services that is battling to break into the US from Asia.
Sun went on to tell Tech in Asia that Tencent intends to keep WeChat open so it can continue to connect with international services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A recent update to the app added photo integration for Facebook and Twitter.
Sun also stressed that the company isn’t yet worried about monetization yet and is instead focused on growing its user base. Tencent took a similar approach with is QQ instant messaging system and near ubiquitous penetration among Chinese Internet users. With over 30 million premium users, Tencent has begun ranking in a tidy profit from QQ that can be used to fund new ventures like WeChat.
Last month, CEO Pony Ma, the fourth-richest person in China according to Forbes, announced that WeChat had topped 200 million users, doubling its numbers in just six months.
As users flock to the service, brands have begun to take note. In August, Nike initiated its first advertising campaign on the service. Durex has also been holding promotions in Beijing to draw attention to its WeChat account.