Business / Technology

WeChat finds way into Italians' heart

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-25 10:08

ROME - Be it for work or leisure, a growing number of Italians are using Tencent's WeChat app in a country which boasts a high volume of instant messaging and a well-developed attitude towards mobile communication applications.

"I have used WeChat since it was created, and I especially use it for work," Thomas Rosenthal, General Manager Greater China at Digital Bros, an Italian digital entertainment group particularly renowned for the subsidiary 505 Games, told Xinhua.

Rosenthal said WeChat has been for him a "fundamental instrument of business development" in opening new relationships. "That is to say that today I do not exchange business cards anymore, but more easily exchange WeChat contacts," he pointed out.

In his view, WeChat is a "powerful instrument" that offers a "much wider range of services" compared to other communication apps. "I like to share my favorite moments with colleagues and friends, but I know that in China WeChat is used for a variety of activities, including payments for example," Rosenthal went on saying.

"Furthermore, I have never faced line problems as happened with other apps, whose services from time to time were blocked," added the Italian manager, who also aims at establishing a relation with WeChat at the corporate level. "Digital Bros plans to collaborate with Tencent's game division. We are launching Digital Bros China in Shenzhen, where Tencent has its headquarters," he told Xinhua.

Carlo Facchini does a completely different job. He is a noted Italian songwriter, leader of the band Tempi Duri (Hard Times). "I started using WeChat when I went to China for the first time. I found out that everyone was using it in China, therefore if I wanted to dialogue with my Chinese friends I had to use it too," he told Xinhua.

Facchini said he has now a "considerable address book" with both Chinese and Italian friends. "What I find most positive in this app is that allows you to attach and send all kinds of files, including songs, which is really useful for me. Other apps do not allow this or are much slower," he noted.

"I find WeChat an excellent communication method that I am now using every day. And every day I see that new Italian friends are using it, so I believe it is strongly developing in Italy too. I predict that in the coming months WeChat will see a surge in Italian users," Facchini concluded.

Anna Manighetti is the mother of a baby girl. "I am very busy, but I have a sister who travels a lot in China and I love watching the pictures that she publishes on WeChat very often. My impression is that WeChat is more flexible compared to the most used app among my friends, WhatsApp," she observed.

"In fact we decided not to go head on head against our competitor in Italy, but let the people discover us and enjoy us, so that our growth now is slower but completely organic and so more stable," Andrea Ghizzoni, Country Director of WeChat Italy, said in an interview with Xinhua at his Milan office.

Ghizzoni said WeChat launched operations in Italy more than one year ago and, after an initial adverting campaign, got good tractions in terms of downloads. Today the number of registered users in the country is not far from around 10 million. The app is available in Italian language, with Italian being also supported in its automatic translation service.

"In the beginning we needed to tell Italians that WeChat was not just another start-up but was something big... now I want other brands to use WeChat because they can take advantage out of that, thus naturally promote WeChat," Ghizzoni noted.

Based on this strategy, the app has launched agreements with mainstream media in Italy, such as Corriere della Sera newspaper, as well as with major e-commerce websites and soccer teams like AS Roma. There are also examples of important Italian brands which have opened their official accounts on WeChat as the gateway to a market of half a billion active users in China.

He also noted WeChat has started the globalization of its payment solutions. "Italian banks are beginning to provide instant payments on their own apps so it should be pretty easier in the future," Ghizzoni explained.

"Actually I would say that instant messaging is less than 10 percent of the things you can do on WeChat. I like to say that WeChat for me is the future of mobile Internet, and by chance you can also chat," he highlighted.

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