WeChat eyes a slice of SA’s e-commerce pie


Johannesburg - Messaging app WeChat is heavily focused on the take-up of its wallet technology in South Africa this year, says the app's head of Africa Brett Loubser.

WeChat, which is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, rivals competitors such as Facebook owned WhatsApp.

But the Chinese-built app has differentiated itself by enabling the development of apps within its ecosystem, such as local delivery service Picup, and payment technologies.

In November last year, WeChat South Africa launched its wallet tech which allows electronic cash transfers and the ability to transact via cards verified by Visa and MasterCard.

READ: WeChat in SA digital wallet play

This month, WeChat South Africa has partnered with Stuff Magazine to allow readers of the print title to buy featured Incredible Connection products by scanning a QR code via the app.

"If you like what you see, you scan a code, you pay for it with your WeChat Wallet, input your address and the product is delivered to your house,” Loubser told Fin24.

"A lot of companies like Incredible Connection already have e-commerce environments set up. We just become the glue between the physical media channel, in this case Stuff Magazine, and their existing e-commerce store.

"For us it's a great way to expose the exciting functionality in our wallet,” Loubser said.

The Stuff-WeChat tie-up is part of a wider focus of driving up demand for the messaging app’s payment technologies in South Africa, Loubser told Fin24.

Depending on how the Stuff-WeChat partnership does, the use of WeChat’s wallet technology could be applied to other magazines, newspapers and online publications.

WeChat launched its wallet app in South Africa last year. (Supplied)

"Our focus for the rest of this year is 100% on the wallet, and services related to that. The initial signs after launch are very encouraging. So, we want to try and maximise that and grow that audience as quickly as we can,” Loubser told Fin24.

"And of course the mobile wallet, payment space in South Africa is pretty interesting at this stage. So, we've got to move as quickly as we can in that regard.

"Our primary focus will be there, but I think we're able to do some new and interesting things that maybe some of the other products out there aren't able to do,” Loubser said.

Globally, WeChat has over 700 million users.

Owing to company policies, WeChat’s Loubser said he is unable to provide user numbers for the service in South Africa.

But researchers last year said that WeChat in 2015 had over 5 million users in the country at that stage.

WeChat South Africa forms part of multinational media and internet giant Naspers [JSE:NPN]. Cape Town headquartered Naspers further has a 34% stake in Tencent.

*Fin24 is part of Media24 which is owned by Naspers.

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