Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings is shutting down the operations of its multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app WeChat in India. The move comes after the country had banned the use of dozens of Chinese apps following a deadly border clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers.
The shutdown of the app, which was at one point one of the world's largest standalone mobile platforms, will likely deal a massive blow to the millions of Indian users who rely heavily on the app for their personal and business use. Tencent, along with other Chinese mobile app operators, likely have no choice but to pull out of the country as the Indian government had not shown any signs of reconsidering its blanket ban.
On Monday, Indian officials had announced that they were adding 47 more Chinese apps to the 59 apps that had already been banned. Officials had alleged that the apps on the growing list all posed serious privacy and national security threats. The country's information ministry mentioned in a statement that it had received a notice from Tencent regarding its plan to cease operations in India late last week. Since Saturday, Indian users have no longer able to sign in to their accounts on the online platform.
The notice sent to the ministry reportedly stated that Tencent does greatly value its users and their data and security privacy. However, they will no longer be serving Indian users for now as they are still trying to engage all relevant authorities to try and find a resolution.
A number of affected Indian users expressed their concerns online, with some directly contacting WeChat through its official Twitter account. One Indian businessman noted that all of his clients were on WeChat and the shutdown is now greatly affecting his ability to do business. Another user pointed out that some of WeChat's built-in features, such as its automatic translation, are not available in other messaging services like WhatsApp.
According to a study conducted by the research firm Global Web Index, around 23 percent of all internet users in India have used WeChat over the past year. This translates to about 159 million out of the country's estimated 687.6 million internet users.
Tencent's move to immediately shut down its operations is the company's way of complying with Indian law. At least ten of the company's other apps, including short video platform Kwai and its email platform QQ Mail, have already been placed on India's blacklist.