Tencent is China’s second-biggest internet company, recently stripped of its number one spot by Alibaba. It’s also one of the country’s most active venture capitalists. While Alibaba made headlines with massive investments into big established companies, Tencent got down and dirty with early stage investments into nascent startups.
Nearly five months after the initial tie-up in Singapore, today WeChat and EasyTaxi announced that its partnership is rolling out to Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Starting today, WeChat users in those three countries can flag a taxi inside the messaging app. People can do this by adding EasyTaxi’s official WeChat account inside the chat app (Malaysia: easytaximy; Thailand: EasyTaxiThailand; the Philippines: EasyTaxi_PH).
Whoops! WeChat is China’s most popular chat app by a country mile, but the folks behind China’s new WeChat Phonebook were left apologizing on Thursday after its Wednesday launch was marred by severe technical problems. WeChat Phonebook has garnered a lot of interest in China as a way to make your phone smarter and cheaper. The app offers free VOIP calling (as long as you’re on wifi) and a variety of convenient services like automatic contact list backup, syncing WeChat avatar images with your contact list, easy group texting, etc.
The newest data from Tencent, China’s social media web giant, shows that its WeChat messaging app now has 468.1 million active users (MAUs) in Q3 2014. That’s up from 438 million MAUs in Q2. It represents quarterly growth of 6.8 percent – by far the lowest it has ever seen. WeChat’s growth is nearly half the rate that it saw from Q1 to Q2. Once again, Tencent did not indicate how many of WeChat’s active users are outside China. This is the app’s growth rate in terms of MAUs so far:
As Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests continue to gather momentum and attention, Hong Kong’s denizens are sharing photos of the moment on social media. But apparently , photos of the protests posted to WeChat by Hong Kong-based users are being censored, and are not visible for WeChat users in mainland China. For example, Hong Kong-based blogger Cam MacMurchy shared the screenshots below with Tech in Asia. On the left is an image from Hong Kong he posted to WeChat on September 30th.
WeChat gets a v6.0 update today – only on iOS so far – that adds in two useful new features. But, as often happens with WeChat, one of these is restricted to its China-based users. The new WeChat feature open to everyone is Vine-like short videos called Sight. This is available in both personal messages and the more public WeChat Moments. In either case, you’re limited to a six-second video. If it’s sent as a message, it autoplays rather like a Vine video or a GIF. It looks like this:
The younger generation in Singapore and other Asia Pacific countries are adopting WeChat, a mobile social communication application for smartphones, in droves. According to GlobalWebIndex (GWI), a market research company specialising in online consumer behaviour, WeChat’s active user base has increased over 55% from Q2 2013 to Q2 2014 globally, with Singapore’s growth attributed at 60%.
Tencent has introduced in-store mobile payments in WeChat, its popular mobile messaging app, for nine retail chains across China. As Pingwest reports, Chinese WeChat users will spot a new “Small Payments” (shuaka, or “swipe card” in Chinese) feature inside the “Wallet” section of the app. Pressing the icon and entering one’s password for WeChat Payments will subsequently generate a QR Code or a barcode that retailers can scan to accept payments for in-store purchases.
China’s biggest internet company Tencent has signed a deal to buy a stake in Sinopec’s sales and marketing arm, according to MarketWatch . This gives Tencent access to the oil giant’s retail operations across China. The maker of WeChat is one of several investors involved in the deal with China’s biggest oil company. The deal is worth RMB 107.1 billion (US$17.44 billion) from 25 new investors, which also include insurance giant PICC, and asset management firm Munsun. Each company can own up to a 2.8 percent stake.
BEIJING: Apple Inc has a lot for which to thank people like Deng. A Beijing-based quality analyst, she gave only her surname as she’s embarrassed by how much money she spends playing mobile games on WeChat, a hugely popular messaging app developed by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Tencent today announced a suite of new features for businesses to better engage customers through their public WeChat accounts, according to TechNode . One day earlier, Alibaba’s mobile Alipay Wallet released over 60 new APIs for third party developers to build online storefronts, according to the company’s official English-language blog .
WeChat and Weibo are huge in China, each with more than half a billion registered users. But their respective might in messaging and microblogging hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from building niche social networks for all kinds of specific groups of people. China’s netizens have, in turn, flocked to these fun and hyper-focused new apps. They’re not meant to replace WeChat or Weibo – indeed, many of these specialist social apps integrate with the country’s top social networks.
A full year after WeChat rolled out its social gaming platform, the popular messaging app finally has a foreign-made game in its portfolio. Over the weekend, the hotly anticipated WeChat edition of Candy Crush Saga rolled out on Android. An iOS version will likely arrive soon. The WeChat edition Candy Crush Saga can be tied either to the messaging app or to QQ, the IM service that’s also run by Tencent (HKG:0700). At the moment, Candy Crush Saga for WeChat is only available via Tencent’s AppGem app store, and can only be used by those with a special invitation code.
Just over two weeks ago, cab-booking app EasyTaxi started taking orders within the WeChat messaging app. How’s that working out so far? Joon Chan, EasyTaxi’s regional manager and director for Southeast Asia, tells Tech in Asia that 5,000 rides have so far been taken by people who booked in WeChat. Joon describes the WeChat tie-up as a “fantastic partnership.” It’s only available in Singapore at the moment ahead of rolling out across EasyTaxi’s other markets in Asia. To use it, a WeChat user must first search for the EasyTaxi ‘official account’ in the messaging app (called ‘EasyTaxiSGP’).
WeChat receives a fair amount of attention from the English-language press for its grasp on China’s mobile messaging market, its steady forays into ecommerce, and its strategic importance to parent company Tencent. But one of the app’s most overlooked qualities is its role as a hub for online media. News outlets, small businesses, and solo bloggers alike will push posts through their subscription accounts, and the app even features a simple but effective “read it later” feature.
With a newly-minted IPO under its belt, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. announced today that is now taking pre-orders for Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console. As part of an agreement between the companies, JD.com will have the exclusive right to accept pre-orders for Xbox One in China from July 28-30, 2014, through JD.com’s Mobile QQ and WeChat entry points. On July 31, the JD.com website and JD.com’s exhibition booth at the ChinaJoy Expo in Shanghai will also begin taking pre-orders.