Rabu, 13 November 2013

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

WeChat operator says will be aggressive in Malaysian market


PETALING JAYA: China's web giant Tencent will be more aggressive in the company's expansion plans for Malaysia.

The company's international business vice-president Poshu Yeung said this would involve WeChat, a mobile communications application.

He said the company would be setting up an office in Malaysia, introduce more innovative features such as games, localised stickers and content as well as teaming up with more local partners.

"Malaysia is growing very fast, recording healthy growth. It is a very successful market outside China. We also have a good position in Hong Kong and Indonesia," Yeung told StarBiz in an interview. WeChat is a mobile communication tool which supports the sending of voice, video, photo and text messages. Surveys show that WeChat is being used by more than eight million Malaysians following the application's June launch.

As of August, WeChat boasted 236 million monthly active users. Tencent yesterday reported a 20% rise in net income to 3.87 billion yuan (RM2.04bil) for the third quarter. Revenue increased by 34%. "We are always in the top position on Google Play and Apps Store. We have a very sizeable user base," Yeung reckoned.

The application may be similar with other communication applications but Yeung said WeChat has innovative features such as voice chat, "moments", "people nearby" or "shake" to enrich their communications.

Under the moments feature, users can view a streaming feed of friends' photos and user themselves. As for the people nearby, users can see who are nearby, and send your greetings.

WeChat app users can also "shake" their smartphone and find other users anywhere in the world who are shaking their phones at the same time.

"We will be launching mobile games this month. We'll be testing the water a bit. We have launched six or seven games in China and it is very encouraging," Yeung said, adding that it would be offering a variety of games.

"We have a long pipeline for 2014."

The popularity of WeChat is quickly catching up with rival WhatsApp. There are also reports indicating that WeChat may surpass Facebook.

Analysts who cover the Hong Kong-listed company said WeChat was Tencent's burgeoning growth story.

Yeung said the company had just started selling stickers on its Sticker Shop two months ago and these stickers liven up messaging.

However, he said, it would be providing free stickers with local content going forward. WeChat would be engaging local illustrators on stickers. In addition, Yeung said WeChat would be setting up a local office here to facilitate Tencent's marketing and business operations.

He added that the outfit would be located within the commercial business district and the actual investment was "pretty small".

Meanwhile, WeChat is interested in working with more local companies to use its platform for creating brand awareness as well as conducting cross marketing activities.

WeChat carries a lot of potential for the Malaysian market, which have been implemented in other countries such as directory of restaurants and mall chains, shopping loyalty/member cards, barcode scanner as well as e-payment.

Yeung noted that WeChat recently collaborated with ChaTime for the ChaTime official WeChat account offering a RM1 second cup offer under the '1 Million Cups Celebration'.

It had also collaborated with Domino's Pizza to offer WeChat users a special deal.

Star Media Group is also partnering WeChat to establish four official accounts namely TheStarOnline, StarProperty, MyStarJob and CarSifu.

"Star Media Group is very excited to work with Tencent group. We see them as an innovative and forward thinking technology company. The partnership will open doors for us to create more creative solutions for our advertisers and likewise our readers experience of our contents," said Star Media Group general manager of corporate services George Chan.

Maybank donates RM1mil for typhoon Haiyan victims


KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank has donated RM1mil to the Philippine Red Cross to assist in aid relief efforts for victims of the recent Super Typhoon Haiyan. 

The Group operates in the Philippines via its subsidiary, Maybank Philippines Inc., which has 69 branches.
Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, has wrought severe destruction on the Central Philippines, particularly on Samar Island and Leyte province. 

In a statement, Maybank said the donation will specifically be used to provide additional medicine, food and potable water supply in Tacloban City, which is reportedly the most devastated, and currently the focus of relief efforts. 

Maybank chairman Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin said the bank was deeply saddened by the suffering of the people of the Philippines as well as the devastation of property and livelihood. 

"We hope our contribution will bring urgent relief to those who require it most and help them rebuild their lives," he added. - Bernama

India's central banker urges ‘deep breath’ after market tumble


MUMBAI: India's central bank governor, Raghuram Rajan, said on Wednesday he was comfortable with core inflation and highlighted the narrowing current account deficit in reassuring investors worried the country would be hit hard in a global market sell-off.

Most immediately, he pledged to move slowly if needed in winding down an oil window that provides dollars directly to state-run oil companies, while announcing a bond purchase of 80 billion rupees (US$1.26bil) on Monday to inject liquidity in markets.

Both had been key concerns in markets.

The news briefing, announced earlier in the day, was an unprecedented departure for the traditionally cautious central bank. Since taking the helm of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in September, Rajan has pledged to be more communicative and has so far been warmly welcomed by investors.

Still, Rajan's remarks had a mixed impact on markets, sending benchmark 10-year bond prices rallying, although the rupee failed to gain much despite ending the day well above a two-month low hit earlier.

Stock markets were already closed.

"It's important that the RBI clarifies interpretation of economic events and the likely direction of economic policies at times of uncertainty so that the market worries about the right things and does not get into a tizzy about the wrong ones. That is my quote today," Rajan told reporters.

"There is no fundamental reason for volatility in value of the rupee," he added. "At some time, it makes sense to take a deep breath and examine the fundamentals. I hope you all will do that."

Rajan addressed reporters after stronger-than-expected US jobs data last week had sparked concerns about an early end to the Federal Reserve's stimulus, hitting the rupee and sending Indian bonds and shares tumbling, although markets remain well above the levels of the summer lows.

Some investors had started to fear a repeat of the summer, when the rupee slumped to a record low of 68.85 to the dollar, punished by worries about the country's vulnerability should foreign investors sell because of Fed tapering.

Analysts also cited some comfort from the governor's remarks on inflation given the RBI has raised interest rates by a half percentage point since September in two back-to-back actions as it fights off rising consumer prices.

Worries about yet another rate hike had gripped investors after India reported late on Tuesday consumer price inflation accelerated more than expected to 10.09% in October from 9.84% in September.

At his briefing, Rajan called food inflation "worryingly high", but said he was comforted by a downward trend in the core consumer price index.

"The RBI has attempted to calm the market by verbal intervention. On the policy front, it seems clear that the governor is in no hurry to hike the repo rate," said Upasna Bhardwaj, economist with ING Vysya Bank.

Rajan also surprised analysts by saying the RBI's estimate for the current account deficit for the fiscal year ending in March was US$56bil, the first time in recent memory the central bank has given such a forecast.

That puts the RBI's estimate in line with the government's after Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said this month the current account gap would reach US$60bil, well below its previous estimate of US$70bil.

India's current account had been a key source of stress during the summer sell-off, but has become less of a concern as the trade deficit has narrowed on government action to curb gold imports and to raise funds from abroad.

Rajan also sought to reassure investors worried about the rupee's stability after the RBI has allowed oil companies to source dollars directly in markets instead of a special window provided by the central bank.

That window was opened as an emergency measure by the RBI in late August and was cited as a key reason behind the recovery in the rupee, which is still up 8.8% since its record low in late August.

Rajan said the RBI had flexibility in managing the return of oil companies to markets, and would go slow if needed.

The rupee strengthened to 63.31 from its 63.71/72 close on Tuesday, while benchmark 10-year bond yields slumped 13 basis points to 8.92%, marking the biggest fall in five weeks – Reuters. 

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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