StarHub, Singapore’s second-largest mobile operator, partnered with social messaging app WeChat, to deliver WeChat support as part of a prepaid service plan.
StarHub’s prepaid customers will be able to use the WeChat platform for text and voice messages, “walkie-talkie”-style chat, sending and sharing photos and comments, and sending animated stickers.
Those wanting to use the service dial *123# on their phone and can use WeChat from SGD0.40 ($0.32) per day or SGD6 per month.
Louis Song, Singapore country manager for WeChat owner Tencent, said consumers are demanding “more innovative, efficient and social mobile communications that gives them more control over how they share their lives”.
Singapore’s leading mobile operator SingTel is believed to be looking to offer its own OTT messaging app, despite an earlier setback with the LoopMe app which was shelved following a soft launch earlier this year.
The rise of so-called Over-The-Top (OTT) messaging apps have impacted operator revenue around the world, as they bypass traditional voice services and run over mobile broadband or WiFi.
Operators are therefore looking to partner with, or compete against, OTT players in an effort to create new revenue streams.
WeChat is the international version of the Chinese Weixin app, which was launched in January 2011. Following in October the same year, WeChat passed 100 million international users in August 2013 and is the most popular mobile social app in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
WeChat is also one of the fastest growing mobile social communications apps among teenagers — usage grew 1,021 per cent among 16 to 19 year olds between the first and third quarter of 2013, according to internet market research firm GlobalWebIndex.
WeChat 5.0 was recently launched with a number of new features, including online payment for its sticker store and a game centre.