TikTok’s ByteDance shuts down LetsChat, its messaging app, in Africa

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March 27, 2024
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2 min read
LetsChat

The news: 

  • TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, has shut down LetsChat, an instant messaging platform.
  • Per the statement on its website, the Chinese Internet technology company discontinued LetsChat operations on Saturday, March 23, 2024.
  • On February 26, 2024, the app, which was once expected to compete with WhatsApp and Telegram in Africa, was removed from various app stores.

Following the closure, logged-in users of the app would no longer be able to log in as usual. The company has also phased out reward tasks, and it will distribute all earned rewards as credit. 

The statement urged users to pay attention to their wallet balance and to make necessary withdrawals before February 26, 2024. 

Before the decision to shut down LetsChat, the Beijing-based tech company invested three years into ensuring the app’s success in Africa, including hiring local staff in Nigeria in full-time positions and short-term contracts.

A ByteDance spokesperson, in an email to Rest of World, explained that the company’s decision to discontinue LetsChat’s operations in Nigeria was to enable it to focus its resources on its other more promising ventures. 

“This decision was made after careful consideration and evaluation of our strategic business objectives,” the spokesperson assured. 

ByteDance launched LetsChat in March 2021 to provide young Africans with a data-efficient messaging platform. Features on the app included text messaging, free voice and video calls, and in-app games. 

The company enlisted popular Nigerian-based social media influencers like Adebowale Adedayo (Mr Macaroni), Chukwuebuka Amuzie (Brain Jotter), and Chinonso Egemba (Aproko Doctor), to help promote the app.

In 2022, LetsChat’s teams went to various Nigerian schools to encourage students to use the app. However, all these efforts were not enough to keep the app from going out of business. 

By the time of the shutdown, LetsChat had nearly 7 million downloads, most of which were from Nigeria, Mali, Angola, and Côte d’Ivoire.

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As the app increasingly struggled to keep its users engaged, monthly users on the platform, according to Sensor Tower, plateaued in December 2021 at around 440,000, as downloads dipped 30% year-on-year in 2022. 

The app’s monthly users also fell from 125,150 to 83,412 between December 2023 and February 2024, according to SimilarWeb. On the other hand, WhatsApp maintained 146 million active monthly subscribers in Africa. 


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