In all the Facebook – WhatsApp $19 billion deal story, messaging app WeChat seemed to have gone into stealth mode at least in India. The Chinese messaging app from Tencent which has more than 300 million users, allows sending text, photos, videos and voice messages over smartphones, find each other by shaking their devices, a common dating technique, and even book and pay for taxis.
The messaging app now being valued at least $60 billion because of its revenues and enabler of providing mobile commerce has no intentions to bring it to India. WeChat, which has a bouquet of m-commerce services, including online payments, a proposed wealth management solution, virtual credit cards, etc. feels that the time is not right to bring these services to India.
“We are not looking to bring m-commerce to India right now as the market is not mature enough to introduce mobile payments,” stated Nilay Arora, VP, Marketing & BD, WeChat.
In fact WhatsApp which charges $1 in developed markets after a year’s usage has kept itself free in India as the mobile payment infrastructure is not yet developed.
However, WeChat has partnered with brands such as Hungama Music, Cafe Coffee Day and Bookmyshow.com by allowing them to build ‘Official Accounts’ on its platform, which can then utilize the WeChat network to offer location-based services, etc., to subscribers.
Previously WeChat had tied up with Getit Infomedia’s local search engine AskMe to provide location-specific local searches, deals and classifieds through an official account ‘AskMeSearch’ on WeChat. The company had said it will also provide information on trending restaurants and deals of the day, apart from providing classifieds on vehicles, mobiles, properties and jobs.
But at the moment WeChat is not focusing on revenues from India shared Arora who also updated that the app makes a small portion of revenue from in-app and in-game purchases on WeChat.
WeChat, which has been in India since the first half of 2012, has never revealed the user base from India but considers India to be a big market. Initially it partnered with Bollywood movie releases in the country to get user traction. Later in May, 2013 the company took the marketing push further and roped in young Bollywood stars Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan as brand ambassadors of WeChat.
The messaging app launched a 30-sec TVC on social to launch the brand ambassadors as well as to promote the feature of voice chat. Moving forward the brand has carried on the engagement further with the existing celebs by launching another set of TVCs and is trying to get more eyeballs.
But 40 million active Indian users already on Whatsapp makes life tough for the app which is China’s second largest most popular messaging app after QQ platform.
Even though the smartphone penetration is growing in the country, it also remains a fact that 80% of the country is dominated by feature phones. While mobile activities have increased in the country, the mobile commerce market needs to be cracked for now.
With WhatsApp launching itself in voice, Viber and Nimbuzz already in it, competition for WeChat in India is not going to be an easy one, at a time when the messaging app scenario in the country is heating up with multiple players.