New rules on mes­sage groups de­liver rare set­back on WeChat as users switch app

New Straits Times - - Business / World -

WECHAT is start­ing to see its first wave of de­fec­tors: Chi­nese cryp­tocur­rency af­fi­ciona­dos. The coun­try’s crack­down on bit­coin and WeChat, the na­tion’s dom­i­nant mes­sag­ing app, is send­ing users of both to Tele­gram and other en­crypted ser­vices banned in the coun­try.

With ad­min­is­tra­tors per­son­ally li­able for what is said on groups they run, users of bit­coin ex­changes OKCoin, Huobi and BTCChina are mi­grat­ing to ser­vices be­yond the gov­ern­ment’s reach.

On Tele­gram, they are pop­ping up to dis­cuss ev­ery­thing from how to trans­fer their dig­i­tal to­kens over­seas to more ef­fec­tive ways to pro­tect pri­vacy, to ini­tial coin of­fer­ings.

The new rules on mes­sage groups have de­liv­ered a rare set­back for WeChat, which per­me­ates the daily life of 963 mil­lion users and un­der­pins Shen­zhen­based Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd’s US$400 bil­lion (RM1.67 tril­lion) mar­ket val­u­a­tion.

The crack­down has con­verged with a tightening on dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies as China declared ini­tial coin of­fer­ings il­le­gal.

Cryp­tocur­rency groups on WeChat have been quick to dis­band and mush­room overnight on Tele­gram.

At least 30 such groups have ap­peared, with some al­ready at­tract­ing more than 1,000 users in a sin­gle room, mostly speak­ing Chi­nese.

While Tele­gram is of­fi­cially blocked in China, users can ac­cess the ser­vice through vir­tual pri­vate net­works. As a for­eign en­crypted plat­form, it is some­what be­yond the grasp of the coun­try’s author­i­ties. Bloomberg


Cryp­tocur­rency groups on WeChat have been quick to dis­band fol­low­ing new rules that hold the ad­min­is­tra­tors li­able for what is said in there.

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