Malaysia will be the first country outside of China to have the complete range of WeChat services available to domestic customers after parent company Tencent was granted a full e-payment licence, Reuters reported.
In an interview with the news agency, Tencent SVP Seng Yee Lau said the launch of the full WeChat suite in the country – including its popular payments arm – will take place in early 2018.
The SVP added Malaysia was an obvious choice as it already had a number of WeChat users for the chat portion of its proposition and was generally “warm” to imports from internet companies from mainland China.
Tencent already provides a number of services outside of China, including games and limited backing for its social network and WeChat Pay.
Over the last two years, the parent companies of WeChat Pay and rival Alipay have made a concerted effort to expand their reach beyond Chinese borders by partnering with financial institutions and retailers in areas popular with Chinese tourists.
Both companies have struck deals in the US, Europe and across APAC.
The focus, though, was on enabling existing customers from China to use their app while abroad rather than attracting people within these countries. A move into Malaysia with a wider service marks the start of a new chapter for Tencent.
In addition to service expansion, both Tencent and Alipay parent Ant Financial have invested and partnered with app providers operating in other markets, primarily in Asia.
The moves by Tencent appear to be paying off: Reuters reported the company today (21 November) became the first from Asia to achieve a market capitalisation of more than $500 billion, which the news agency noted exceeds US-based social network Facebook.