Chinese social media app WeChat gaining popularity in Bhutan

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-02 20:35:13|Editor: Lifang
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THIMPHU, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- It is the Chinese social media app WeChat that has helped Karma, a villager residing in Bhutan's eastern district of Trashigang, keep connected with her daughter studying abroad.

Lack of English knowledge has made it difficult for Karma to make use of the Internet facility on her mobile phone. However, with WeChat's "hold to talk services," Karma remains connected with her daughter and cousins living in far flung countryside.

The app's "hold to talk service" is even more popular among illiterate and semi-literate people, who use it to communicate with their relatives and family, and inform about their daily whereabouts. The service, according to Karma, is not just user friendly but requires no ability to write.

WeChat has become one of the popular social media apps among local people in Bhutan since few years ago.

"My daughter is studying in abroad and I can not calls her, as it is very expensive, and lack of English writing skills it's always a challenge to use other facilities available on the Internet," said Karma. However "I can hold a button and talk to her anytime I wish to talk, and also listen to what they say," she said with a big smile.

From sharing vocal records to reciting poems and videos, and even selling products, WeChat is currently one of the hottest, if not coolest, social media platforms for the local people of Himalayan kingdom.

Kinley, a school teacher and a volunteer for disaster control said, she is part of a WeChat group for national volunteers disaster management. "WeChat has helped us in reporting the disasters promptly from across the country, which makes volunteers to respond and ask for additional help within minutes," said Kinley.

Unlike other social media applications, WeChat doesn't require excellent Internet connection. They could upload videos and photographs with slight network connection even from high mountains, said Zangmo, a highlander. "I sell and order products from my friends who run business in urban town through WeChat," Zangmo said.

WeChat not only comes with "hold to talk" feature but also has standard communication features like free calling, text messaging and video chat. All users have to do is select a contact, press the button, and speak.

The social media application, "WeChat" was introduced in 2011 and as per the record, it has now become one of the largest standalone messaging apps by monthly active users counting to be over 963 million monthly. The app has many functions that are easily assessable by both literate and illiterate people. One of the features that attract users in Bhutan is its humorous Emojis.

Apart from "WeChat," social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and Linkedin are also gaining popularity among the Internet users of the small country.

Bhutan is one of the last countries to open to television and Internet services. Only in 1999 the country's people had access to Internet, and in 2012 the first ever and only Tech Park and incubator was opened in its capital of Thimphu.