WeChat dangles carrots for users in US push

Tencent, China’s largest Internet company by revenue, is now investing big in the U.S. to promote its popular messaging app.

WeChat, the popular messaging app which functions like Facebook's messenger app or WhatsApp, already counts almost hundreds of million users across Asia and the rest of the world in its userbase. It's now targeting the U.S. market where its name remains new to most of the population.

In a new round of promotional campaign on Jan 26, Tencent announced in a pushing note that WeChat users in the U.S. who link their Google accounts to their WeChat accounts, and add 5 contacts on WeChat, will be offered a US$25 gift card, which can be redeemed in a substantial number of restaurants in the country, according to a report by Tencent's news portal qq.com.

Wechat (qq.com)

Tencent has allied with Google to promote WeChat in the U.S. as Google accounts for nearly 25 percent of network traffic in the North America, with numerous Google accounts available through networks including Gmail, Youtube and other Google related services as well as mobile terminal such as Google Play, the report indicated.

The application, launched in 2011, owns 600 million registered users by the end of 2013, among which 100 million users locate outside of China. WeChat has become a popular app in markets including Southeast Asia and South America where entry levels are relatively low.

A ifeng.com report revealed that Tencent's ambition to the U.S. market could be traced back to early 2013 when the company set up a office in the country to research on customers and expand networks.

The alliance with Google is indeed a wise choice for WeChat as Google-related traffic has exceeded the total amount of Facebook, Netflix and Instagram in North America. But the report added that the prospect of WeChat in the U.S. remains a question where instant messaging software is less popular among Americans due to cultural differences.

WeChat will also face fierce market competition from Facebook, Skype and Twitter, which are more rooted in the country. Even the growth of leading instant messaging app – Whatsapp – had had a hard time matching its global growth in the U.S., while Japanese software Line also entered the American market last year, said the report.