How WeChat’s parent company Tencent could be impacted by U.S. ban
Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings changed the name of its office collaboration app WeChat Work to WeCom, making it a potential alternative to its WeChat messaging app before the US ban.
Tencent registered WeCom on Aug.19, according to United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Two sources representing Tencent said WeCom will not be subject to a ban on WeChat-related transactions in the United States since September 20, one of a series of U.S. measures to crack down on Chinese tech companies and apps that Washington said pose a threat to national security.
WeChat is a universal mobile application that combines messaging, social media, payment functions and other services. Its so-called super app is almost indispensable in daily life in China and has over a billion users..
In the US, WeChat is widely used by expats and others to communicate with friends and colleagues in China. According to analyst firm Apptopia, the app has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States..
After downloading WeCom, users can now link their WeChat account to it and add their contacts from the app. WeCom users can exchange messages, create chat groups, and even receive virtual money from WeChat friends without even having their WeChat contacts download WeCom.
There was no indication that Tencent was actively promoting WeCom in the United States. According to Sensor Tower, there have been no spikes in WeCom downloads in recent weeks.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is set to release rules on Sunday clarifying which WeChat transactions will be banned by presidential decree Donald Trump.
The US Department of Justice said Thursday that Ross had no plans to restrict those people or groups who download or use WeChat only to transmit personal or business information..
Tencent employees in the US have historically used WeChat Work to communicate with the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen. Tencent USA employs at least 250 employees.
Trump’s announcement on August 6 to ban WeChat-related transactions caused a sharp increase in downloads of the eponymous and alternative apps by US residents. A group of WeChat users also sued for blocking.
The WeCom mobile app is gaining popularity in China, where downloads in the first half of September increased 74% from 690,000 in the first 16 days of August. Total downloads were 158% higher than the same period a year ago.
But the app didn’t get much adoption in the US. New installations in America in September are currently around 3,000, which is unchanged from the same period in August and from 1,000 in the first half of last September..