With the planned feature, WeChat users will be able to buy each other Starbucks-branded drinks and gifts and send them over the app along with personalized messages. The two companies will also expand the reach of WeChat Pay, a digital payment method, to around 2,500 Starbucks outlets across the country.
The partnership, announced Wednesday, will give Starbucks access to hundreds of millions of users of the communication service, according to a statement issued by the coffee giant.
WeChat reportedly had 846 million monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2016. And those numbers are likely to climb by the time the partnership kicks off in early 2017.
The growth of Starbucks digital footprint comes as the coffee-maker undergoes an aggressive bricks and mortar expansion in China, the world’s second largest consumer market. Starbucks plans to more than double its Chinese store count by 2021.
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Announcing the deal Belinda Wong — who was made CEO of Starbucks China in October — said, “Just as Starbucks cards are among the most gifted around the globe, we aspire to also become the most gifted brand digitally in China.”