Chinese social media app WeChat reaches 1 billion users
China's most popular social media app WeChat has surpassed yet another massive milestone — 1 billion monthly users.
The landmark came during February, the month of Chinese Lunar New Year, the company announced.
Only Facebook and its own messenger app WhatsApp have more, with about 2.1 billion and 1.5 billion respectively.
Facebook reached 1 billion monthly users in 2012.
Pony Ma, the chief executive and founder of Tencent, the parent company of WeChat, announced the milestone on the sidelines of China's 13th National People's Congress in Beijing.
"WeChat's worldwide monthly active users have surpassed the critical 1 billion mark," Mr Ma said at the Great Hall of the People.
But as WeChat users often hold more than one account — to separate personal and business accounts — the amount of people using the social media platform may actually be less.
Once a standard messaging app, WeChat now offers more of an all-in-one service to its users.
Australia already using WeChat Pay system
Its in-house mobile payment service, WeChat Pay, lets users book restaurants, order taxis, transfer money to friends and shop online with ease.
As a result, WeChat has become a crucial element of everyday life in China and is spreading around the world. It has been launched in more than 15 countries to date.
More than 10,000 shops and restaurants in Australia are already using the WeChat Pay system and more than 2.5 million Australians are believed to own the app.
Mr Ma said the company would continue to expand.
"Tencent has grown from a five-member small company 20 years ago into the one with over 40,000 employees and a market value of $US500 billion," he said.
"In the future we hope to use technological innovation to push forward the next developmental step of reform and opening."
He said he expected technological innovation to be an important part of China's One Belt One Road initiative, as President Xi Jinping looks to expand China's trade influence.