WeChat is on the move again. The China-based social messaging and mobile wallet platform plans to expand its presence in Europe and the U.S., efforts that could bring it better relationships with advertisers, brands and payment providers.
The WeChat social messaging app has more than 880 million monthly active user accounts globally. WeChat was developed by China-based Tencent and launched in 2011. Tencent maintains an office near San Francisco and a spokesman there confirmed the general expansion plan but gave no further details.
WeChat wants to open an office in the U.K. and in another European country, according to a Bloomberg report. WeChat already has an office in Italy. WeChat also wants to boost its U.S. team. The new expansion could lead to more WeChat relationships with high-value brands. About four years ago, in a bid to boost its profile outside of China, WeChat ran a global marketing campaign that featured soccer star Lionel Messi, Bloomberg said. Downloads increased but actual use of the app failed to catch on. Chinese tourists also use WeChat overseas.
Late last year, WeChat struck a deal so that its users could send Starbucks digital gift cards to other WeChat consumers. Also in 2016, Australia-based Novatti Group and RoyalPay Australia agreed to distribute the WeChat mobile wallet in the country. More than 1 million Chinese tourists will visit Australia this year and spend at least $1.9 billion on retail goods, the bank said.
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