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HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s biggest social network and gaming firm Tencent Holdings, which last week reported forecast-beating quarterly results, is close to making Malaysia the first foreign country to roll out its WeChat ecosystem, an executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Tencent’s booth is pictured at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
If you’re using a messaging app in China, chances are it’s owned by Tencent – a leading provider of web-based services in China that owns WeChat, as well as a whole host of social media platforms, entertainment subsidiaries and payment services. With an increasing amount of global brand awareness, the time had come for Tencent to expand its corporate typographic voice in line with its ambitions. The company approached Monotype to design a bespoke typeface, based on its existing logo, that could convey its vision of “innovation, responsibility and enablement”.

Tencent has made a “breakthrough” in gaining an e-payment license in Malaysia for local transactions, and plans a launch early next year, senior vice president S.Y. Lau said in an interview.

The move pits Shenzhen-based Tencent against rival Alibaba Group as they scramble for new growth opportunities outside China. Tencent this week became the first Asian firm to enter the club of companies worth more than $500 billion, and on Tuesday surpassed Facebook in market value.

“Malaysia is actually quite large in the sense that we have 20 million WeChat users, huge potential, and the market is quite warm towards internet products from China,” Lau said.

Southeast Asia, home to more than 600 million people and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, has been a key battleground for China’s tech titans fighting for deals. Ethnic Chinese make up more than a fifth of Malaysia’s population.

WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay, which dominate China’s digital payment market, have sought to expand their global footprint, although that push has so far been limited to payment services for Chinese outbound tourists. They can scan-and-pay for purchases in 34 countries or regions via Alipay and 13 via WeChat Pay, according to the companies.

Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial has joint ventures in seven markets for local digital payments services, which operate independently under the partnerships’ brand names.

Alibaba is looking to build a global payment system, while Tencent is more interested in generating traffic for WeChat – two different strategies, some bankers and investors say.

WeChat has more users, but Alipay’s aggregate transaction volume is higher, according to JP Morgan’s John Hall, though other investors note that WeChat Pay can also process large transactions if it’s used on e-commerce platforms.

GLOBAL EXPANSION

One challenge for Tencent, say analysts, is that its success in China cannot be easily exported to other markets.

Tencent is “not in a hurry” to speed up its overseas expansion or increase the monetization rate of its digital assets, Lau said.

“We walk our own path at our own pace … and, to be honest, there is really quite a lot to do in China,” he said.

WeChat, which has ballooned from a messaging app to an all-in-one platform with 980 million monthly active users, could be the “killer product” to spearhead expansion abroad, Lau said, as its embedded payment function draws more services.

WeChat, with an open platform of mini-programs, was a key revenue contributor for Tencent in the third quarter. Social and other advertising revenue rose 63 percent, while payment and cloud helped “other business” post a 143 percent jump

“Honour of Kings”, Tencent’s top-grossing battle game that led an 84 percent increase in quarterly smartphone gaming revenue, also owes its success to the network help of WeChat, and is expected to find it tougher to crack Western markets, analysts say.

Tencent this month delayed the launch of the game’s U.S. edition, “Arena of Valor”, to next year to “further polish additional gameplay and social features”.

After games and social media, most of Tencent’s other businesses are in digital content, including Spotify equivalent Tencent Music and YouTube equivalent Tencent Video, which also makes its own dramas.

CULTURE CHALLENGE

Lau said the ultimate aim was to export culture from China to the rest of the world, rather than the other way round, which he acknowledged was challenging.

“What we’re aiming to create is ‘super IPs’ (intellectual property) that leverage our different businesses from upstream to downstream,” Lau said, citing Disneyland and the James Bond movies as successful practices in the West.

A big business for Tencent’s recently listed publishing arm, China Literature, is to sell its popular novels and have them turned into dramas and video games by Tencent’s other business lines.

Tencent this month announced a plan involving 10 billion yuan ($1.51 billion) of investment to boost its creative content ecosystem, though it gave no time frame for the investment.

Company president Martin Lau – no relation to S.Y. – said on an earnings call last week that Tencent would keep investing in digital content, especially online video, to draw more time from more paying customers.

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Overseas acquisitions will remain a key way of enhancing Tencent’s global access and competitiveness, S.Y. Lau said.

Independent technology analyst Richard Windsor said Tencent’s 2016 acquisition of Supercell gave it a strong position in gaming, while the move to buy a stake in social media firm Snapchat is another piece in the jigsaw.

“It increasingly looks as if Tencent is embarking on a circumnavigation of the digital life pie in order to build an ecosystem to challenge the Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook dominance of consumer digital services,” he said, noting it’s at a “super early stage” in that process.

Tencent will likely seek more overseas acquisitions, Windsor added, which, beyond being expensive, could challenge Tencent in integrating all its digital assets at home and abroad.

Tencent has struggled to monetize its dominance over the Chinese digital life, he said, adding that’s why he sees more upside in Tencent’s market valuation, and prefers it to Alibaba.

Henry Sapiecha

IS FACEBOOK TOO MUCH FOR SOME PEOPLE LIKE USA SINGER TAYLOR SWIFT

US singing star, Taylor Swift

Dear Facebook. It’s over. I’m leaving you. No, no please, don’t. Just don’t. Don’t even start with your trembling lip and message after message after message about how much you’ll miss me, and my friends will miss me, and how even my family won’t approve of us breaking up.

Wild Secrets

And please, don’t try to tell me how much I’ll miss you. That might have worked last time, but I’m serious, Facebook. I mean it this time. We’re over. It’s not about me. It’s you.

Taylor knows the score
Taylor knows the score. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

You’ve changed, Facebook. You used to be cool. God, I can’t believe I even typed those words, the way things have gone between us. But what the hell, I suppose I can give you that. Once upon a time, back when you were just starting out on campus, sure, I’ll admit it, you used to be cool.

You were all shiny and new, kind of sweet, a little geeky, dorky even. But fun.

God, Facebook. What happened to the fun?

I can’t even remember when I began to suspect that you’d changed, but I know a time did come when I knew that things were different between us. That you were different. I was still me, but you weren’t just a big deal on campus any more.

It was like you were everywhere and everyone loved you and, omigod, didn’t you love that?

I’m going to tell you this straight, Facebook. I liked you a lot more before you were popular and … No! Please. Be quiet. Just stop it with the begging and pleading.

And please stop messaging me.

You need to hear this. I’m not just being painfully hipper-than-thou. You were much cooler before things got so big and crazy.

As much as you loved being loved, Facebook, as much as you loved being crazy popular, you turned into a complete jerk about one minute later.

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It wasn’t the way you insisted on moving everything around, on changing my whole set-up on your whim. I knew that about you, going in. That stuff doesn’t bother me the way it does some people.

But what did bother me, Facebook, was the way that although I was willing to let you have your space and your freedom and your own friends, you never allowed me the same.

You started asking me to ”check in” with you, not just when I was messing around online, but when I was out in the world doing my thing. My thing, Facebook. Not yours. Mine.

Was it really necessary for you to follow me everywhere, and then to tell everyone about it? You know what they call that when others do it? Stalking.

It was not cool when you changed my email address to one you could track and control.

And it was definitely not cool when you kept trying to make me be friends with Bronwyn Bishop. We have nothing in common, Facebook, and yet there you were for one insane week trying to mash us together – like that was ever going to work.

What is it with you and ”friends”, Facebook? I’ve got 3½ thousand of them now. There are under-strength divisions of the army with less people in them! But you keep sending me more and more of these so-called friends.

Facebook, I don’t know any of these people. They’re not my friends, they’re yours! It’s like being in The Matrix surrounded by an ocean of Agent Smiths all wanting to show me their birthing videos and unpublished manuscripts.

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AND WILL YOU FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP MESSAGING ME!

I don’t care that Britnee will miss me. Britnee lives in Beaver’s Lick, Arizona, and seems to take poorly framed and focused photographs of ”kittens” for a living.

Maybe she and Mrs Bishop should get together, except I fear from Bronwyn’s vulpine smile that she would eat the poor kitten in one bite and Britnee would be upset.

But either way, neither Britnee nor Bronwyn are my concern.

What’s my concern, Facebook, is that way that everywhere I turn now, there you are. In my face, demanding attention. Refusing to let go.

I don’t believe for a minute that those NSA spooks forced you to spy on everyone. I think they begged you to do it for them because you turned out to be a hell of a lot better at it than they were.

They’ve got satellites and wire taps and buildings full of computers to break into people’s private lives, but you didn’t need any of that.

You just tweaked a few check-boxes 23 pages into the unreadable hell of your privacy settings and certain people were suddenly exposed to the world as secretly playing Taylor Swift’s Our Song on a marathon 16-hour radio loop.

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I’ll never forgive you for that, Facebook. The only people I want pawing through my private communications and knowing about my embarrassing Taylor Swift problem are the CIA. I’m pulling the plug, Facebook – and, yes, just in case you were wondering, there have been other social networks and there will be in the future.

And you know what? They were better than you.

No, just shut up and listen to me for once. Or even better. Listen to Taylor.

Taylor knows the score. You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends – all 3448 of them – but we are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together.

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Henry Sapiecha
black diamonds on white line
black diamonds on white line