WeChat is the leading provider of instant messaging and calling services across China.
One thing that makes this app so popular in the region is the fact that it is way more than an instant messenger like Facebook’s WhatsApp.
The app has expanded to offer services such as cab hailing, travel and hotel reservations, making payments and purchases, food ordering as well as theprovision of a variety of services in a bid to bolster its revenue avenues. No western app is close to this Asian giant, and as we speak, the app is nowhere near resting just yet.
The amazing services offered on WeChat have attracted a following of more than 650 million people, with more than 75% of the entire user base based in China. However, it still trails WhatsApp’s 900 million user base even though the later still lacks in certain key areas, including the lack of a video calling feature. However, with the way things are poised, it seems this gap may be no more by the time 2016 comes to a closure.
In light of what tech pundits think 2016 will look like, it seems WeChat has more in store than we can expect from any other chat app; something that might push the app up the ladder on global popularity. One thing for sure is that WeChat will expand its mobile wallet to the global audience. Pundits also predict that the ad revenue of the app will increase while, at the same time, Tencent Holdings might jump into virtual reality.
WeChat is on a global expansion mission
Latest reports reveal that WeChat’s owner – Tencent – recently made a huge investment in South Korea’s Kakao Bank, one of the country’s first internet banks. This move is aimed at allowing the use of WeChat Wallet in the country, pundits reveal. However, this could just be the app’s way of kick-starting its international expansion campaign.
In recent times, the app has gained followers from countries such as Malaysia, Hong Kong as well as Singapore, appearing among the top 5 most used apps on both Android and iOS. On the other hand, the Wallet feature has proven that it can do wonders based on its usage in the home country. While the Wallet service is widely used in China, it is only South Africa that also allowsthe privilege of using this service outside China.
Just recently, WeChat opened up it’s cross-border payments service that takes into account up to 20m countries. This is to allow Chinese tourists make payments using WeChat Wallet when doing shopping in overseas countries and thus avoid credit card charges.
WeChat Ad business likely to increase in 2016
The company’s advertising business might see an increment in 2016, latest reports suggest. WeChat has Moments, a feature that works like a mini-Facebook page where users can share their posts for other to comment, like or even share with friends. The feed also lets WeChat users post their status or add links as well. The revenue the company generates from ads that show up in this feed is set to increase in 2016 given the continuing growth of the app’s user base. However, the main ad revenue is sourced from companies’ public account ads that are pushed to users when they follow their most revered brand or company.
Virtual Reality is on the way
While the above mentioned additions will with no doubt excite the millions who already use this app, the most exciting addition will be the app’s deeper jump into the virtual reality world. Plans to go into the field intensified when Tencent announced in November that it will be producing a head-mounted VR display as well as a compatible gaming console, but no mention of the release date was heard.
WeChat already offers users with a gaming platform and now that VR is coming into play, there will be plenty of gaming to do on this platform; however, what remains to be seen is how Tencent plans to integrate its internet services with VR content.