WeChat, the instant messaging service owned by Tencent, is popular in its home base of China but faces stiff competition from WhatsApp and others as it tries to expand globally. To compete successfully, it will have to add new features. To give developers access to its 300 million users, the company has just released an API for iOS and Android. The API allows sharing via WeChat's Message and Moments features.
The big news in its API is payment functionality, which will make it easier for consumers to shop through the apps connected to WeChat.
As Arash Fekri reports in the Master Herald,
This is straying a bit too far from WeChat’s main functionality, but it could go in line with what we said above about experimenting with drastic new changes to the app. Plus, more creative use of the payment API would mean more profits for Tencent, which in turn could help stabilize WeChat’s market positions. It will take some time before we see the full extent of the impact of the new API on the company and the app itself, but there’s definitely still hope for WeChat’s future.
Will it succeed head to head against Facebook outside China? This seems doubtful. As Apple has shown, the best way to compete against rivals (as in its legendary war with Microsoft) is to organize a business that fundamentally contradicts the business design of rivals. It took a decade for Microsoft to catch on to the value of Apple's hardware/software/services model, a lesson it isn't quite clear Microsoft is committed to learning. To beat Facebook, Tencent and WeChat will need more than better bells and whistles.
For more news on WeChat, read up on their partnership with Oreo.