Tencent-owned WeChat has officially ceased operations in India, in compliance with a ban issued by the government last month.

“Pursuant to Indian law we are unable to offer you WeChat at this time,” said a notice sent by WeChat on Saturday to an undetermined number of Indian users, who were unable to log into the app.

“We value each of our users, and data security and privacy are of utmost importance to us,” the notice said. “We are engaging with relevant authorities and hope to be able to resume service in the future.”

Early this week, India banned 47 more Chinese apps which are apparently clones of the 59 applications which were previously banned. According to local news reports, an order to this effect was issued on Friday.

The banned apps include TikTok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, BIGO LIVE Lite and VFY Lite. However, the list of additional apps that have been banned was not immediately available, and there is no official word on the matter yet.

According to industry estimates, Chinese Internet companies have about 300 million unique users in India, indicating that nearly two-thirds of smartphone users in the country have downloaded a Chinese app.

With uncertainty around Chinese companies – given recent government moves over scanning investments or import consignments from across the border – buyers may opt for “safer bets”, mobile company executives told the Economic Times.

These bans follow in the wake of Chinese apps coming under increasing pressure from the Trump administration in the US over privacy and censorship issues. Chinese short-video platform TikTok’s operations are currently under discussion and scrutiny in Australia, while the Korea Communications Commission recently fined the company 186m Won (US$155,485) for collecting data from children under 14 years old without the consent of legal guardians. 

In a bid to regain entry to one of its biggest markets, TikTok has reportedly offered to set up an engineering centre to design and develop products in India while reiterating its plan to establish a local data centre in a letter to the Indian government.

Sourced from South China Morning Post, The Economic Times