Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp may be some of the go-to social media channels in the USA, Europe and much of the rest of the world but in China, it’s WeChat that is the country’s largest social media platform. Used by nearly 900 million users, it’s not just a social channel for messaging and the like, it also features commerce and payment services and it is these that WeChat want to expand into the European market.
Concentrating on its commerce and payment services seems to be a strategically wise move as trying to enter the consumer messaging market in Europe would be an uphill struggle up against already well-established rivals such as WhatsApp. Instead, by offering its ecommerce platform and payment services, it will allow European businesses to sell to Chinese shoppers as well as allowing Chinese users of WeChat to use the app to pay for goods and services in Europe.
If such a commerce and payment system takes off in Europe and elsewhere, we could see WeChat expand its offerings to the European market and begin to take on the already established social media channels with their unique and novel take on social media, messaging and commerce.
The news of WeChat’s expansion into Europe comes as it was revealed this week that WeChat’s owners. Tencent Holdings Ltd are now the world’s tenth biggest company, it’s stock climbing by a staggering 43% in the last 12 months. This has seen its market value pushed up to $279 billion, seeing them overtake US banking group Wells Fargo who are now the eleventh largest company in the world.
This growth has been made all the more remarkable in that unlike many other Chinese companies, Tencent actually do very little business outside of the Chinese mainland. Despite being best known for WeChat messaging, it’s actually its payment system that has boosted its tremendous growth, it now being used by over 600 million users per month, generating 600 million daily transactions. Acquisitions have also helped boost growth including their recently bought 5% stake in Tesla which cost them $1.8 billion.
More interestingly, much of Tencent’s more recent successes can be put down to founder Ma Huateng unusual management style, where instead of using the traditional model of different facets of the business pulling together in an attempt to innovate, Ma Huateng decided to do things differently when looking to enter the mobile messaging service. Ma Huateng decided instead to encourage employees to compete against each other and the result was WeChat, now the largest social media service in China with nearly 900 million users and one of the largest in the world alongside services such as Facebook.
WeChat are now actively looking for a base in the UK and and another European country to add to is offices that are already established in Italy. It is also thought that they are looking for a base in the USA too to facilitate future expansion into the American market.