Canadian messaging app Kik has long been aspiring to be the WeChat of the West.
Now that Tencent, the company behind this Chinese-based instant messaging app has dropped in with a $50 million kitty, it means things are beginning to take shape at Kik’s camp.
WeChat is a very popular app in Asia, boasting a massive user base of over 550 million people. Its popularity keeps growing day in day out thanks to the many amazing features it offers users from this highly populated region of the world. It is possible to send free messages via the app, make free voice and video calls as well as carry put lots of other things such as book a taxi, make payments, reserve a hotel table, among many others.
Kik has landed a massive investment deal from the parent company of WeChat, and this looks to be a part of the plan of WeChat to expand its market in North America. According to the latest investment, Kik is valued at $1 billion.
Is this the current trend by Western messaging apps?
In the recent past, many Western messaging apps have been working towards streamlining and growing their businesses in the same model as many Asian apps. Apps from the latter region have been very successful with monetization of their services, something that many Western apps have failed. However, now that many of them are coming to realize what monetization of their services does to their market valuation, they have started to adopt practices from a number of these Asian messaging apps.
Kik seems to be the latest company that is looking for a ride on the popularity wave that has seen apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat increase their market values to $19 billion.
However, Kik is the most vocal of all as it has made its intentions of emulating WeChat very clear. WeChat now offers more than just messaging services as users can also play games, buy tickets as well as exchange images. This is what most young people love to do, and since Kik claims that more than 40% of U.S. teens use it, it will be very easy to catch the young users.
When users are caught at an early stage, retaining them is not that hard as they tend to trust the service in addition to making use of the various add-on services. There is already a new add-on feature that lets users exchange GIF-based messages, and many are taking it positively, the company reveals. Just like WeChat came in as a gateway for many internet users in Asia, Kik will be using the same method to break into the Western market.
Now that Kik has new money in its account, there is room for introducing new services and features. Also, the company will now be in a better position to build revenue; something that has already kicked off with initiatives such as Kik Points. This is an initiative where users visit sites, join partner services as well as take surveys and in the process, they are rewarded.