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Tencent to boost development of WeChat app

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

08:34, March 12, 2013

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.

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.

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