WeChat is targeting Malaysia as the second market outside of China to receive its full suite of services.
The chat service’s parent firm Tencent has been granted a full e-payment licence that will enable it to bring its complete offering to Malaysia, including its popular payments function. Tencent SVP Seng Yee Lau stated that the suite will launch in the market in early 2018.
Lau noted that Malaysia was a natural choice for overseas expansion as it was typically “warm” to internet products and services from Chinese firms, noting that WeChat’s chat service is already widely used in the market. Tencent currently offers certain services outside of China, including elements of its WeChat Pay service and its social network.
WeChat Pay and its rival Alipay have been pushed aggressively by their parent firms into overseas markets for the past two years via partnerships with banks and retailers, particularly in destinations that see a high rate of tourism from mainland China. However, the aim of this proliferation was to facilitate the use of the apps by Chinese customers travelling abroad, rather than localising them for the overseas markets.
Tencent’s move into Malaysia is aimed specifically at attracting local customers, and therefore marks a departure from its previous overseas strategy. The firm, along with Alipay’s parent firm Ant Financial, is also courting app providers in other markets – although particularly within Asia – via partnerships and investment.
Expanding beyond China seems to be having the desired effect for Tencent, with its market capitalisation exceeding $500 billion as of 21st November – higher than the social networking giant Facebook.