WeChat used to be an extremely popular messaging app, enjoying millions of users, especially in China where many saw (and still see) it as their primary messaging tool. However, the recent attempts of Tencent, the app’s developer, to expand to other markets, have been met with some strong resistance in the face of WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging platforms in Western countries.
According to experts, this will be a tough push for the company, as Facebook has already established itself as the leader in several social media markets. It’s the primary social platform, and the company also owns WhatsApp, securing a stable position on the mobile messaging market as well. A lot of people are currently accustomed to WhatsApp, while Viber has been making success in attracting users as well, which means that WeChat is going to have to either introduce a major feature that the other apps lack (and is attractive to users, obviously), or resort to heavy marketing in order to increase its prominence on the market.
Either way, Facebook is expected to respond to such attempts with adequate resources, as the company already has strong experience in expanding its services aggressively.
Meanwhile, things haven’t been looking that well on Tencent’s financial front either. Even though the company is still profiting from WeChat (and quite nicely at that), their revenue has slowed down, while they have been reporting increased costs for running the company. At this point, WeChat may have to introduce additional monetization in order to remain a viable product for Tencent, but it’s important to remember that the app has more value than the revenue it brings, as it has an already established market attached to its name as well.
The company has been trying to win some extra attention in the developer communities as well, as they have recently revealed that they’re releasing their own API, giving coders the opportunity to integrate various WeChat functions into their own apps with ease. And now, Tencent have additionally announced that they will include payment services into their API, allowing developers to implement in-app markets as well as online payment features.
This is straying a bit too far from WeChat’s main functionality, but it could go in line with what we said above about experimenting with drastic new changes to the app. Plus, more creative use of the payment API would mean more profits for Tencent, which in turn could help stabilize WeChat’s market positions. It will take some time before we see the full extent of the impact of the new API on the company and the app itself, but there’s definitely still hope for WeChat’s future.