China's WeChat, the instant messaging app by Tencent, has Facebook's WhatsApp, Japan's Line, and Microsoft's Skype service in its sights with a new phone calling service.
Tencent's WeChat launched a new function named "WeChat Out", which allows users to call fixed-line phones or mobile phones, aiming to compete with its Asian competitor Line.
This new function is currently only available in some markets outside mainland China, including the U.S., Hong Kong, and India. However, Tencent promised that it will soon be available in more countries and regions.
As a new year's gift, WeChat provided users with a USD0.99 coupon, which can make up to 100 minutes free-of-charge phone calls across the world.
As the competitor of WeChat in the Asian market, Line launched a similar service in 2014.
For privacy advocates though, this new phone calling feature could extend worries about Chinese government surveillance of phone calls around the globe. As WeChat is a China-based service that adheres to both providing the Chinese government with the means to surveil users and censorship within its text chatting app of certain phrases, global netizens may worry about who is listening to their calls.