On the back of this, Chinese brands are also working to establish themselves globally. WeChat is one such brand, and they are changing the way messaging services are perceived with a global above-the-line campaign that, one, includes television and, two, incorporates high profile brand ambassadors like Argentinian footballer, Lionel Messi.

WeChat, which is known as Weixin in China, is owned by Chinese Hong Kong-listed company Tencent (in which local media company, Naspers, has a 34% stake), is said to have in excess of 400 million subscribers with 70 million internationally. Started in early 2011, the drive into the African continent has been led from SA and, since they launched the TV campaign with Lionel Messi in early July, user subscriptions have grown 500%. They are also said to be the most downloaded app in Blackberry World and the App Store in the country, and it is available on all smartphone platforms including iOS, Symbian, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.

Since they launched the TV campaign with Lionel Messi in early July, user subscriptions have grown 500%

Positioned as a ‘social messaging’ app, WeChat has traditional and unique features including text, voice and video chat, the ability to send images, music and video, and the social Moments feature, which enables one to share media and links with a closed group of friends and contacts. Group chat can support up to 40 people and people around as well as a new feature Hold Together, use location-based features to identify people and friends with WeChat in your vicinity. Unlike Whatsapp, just having someone’s number doesn’t allow you to automatically add them on WeChat, they would have to accept your invite in the same way that BBM does.

With Official Accounts, brands, celebrities, and the like are able to broadcast regular messages to followers in a controlled fashion while Sticker Shop (another new feature) is an online payment space for the purchase and download of stickers. In addition, you can share web pages on Facebook easily as well as save messages (voice and text) and photos.

While Tencent’s monetisation of WeChat is still unclear, although there are multiple channels possible, with the numbers on the platform, and the recent launch of features such as Sticker Shop, the future does look promising.