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TD Ameritrade's Partnership With WeChat Brings Financial Education To A Surging Mobile User Base

TD Ameritrade's Partnership With WeChat Brings Financial Education To A Surging Mobile User Base

In a decisive step toward bringing its investment research and tools to a broader audience, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: AMTD) has partnered with Chinese tech giant Tencent Holding ADR (OTCMKTS: TCEHY) to bring a mobile version of the brokage’s research platform to the popular WeChat messaging app. The online brokerage announced the partnership early in December, outlining its intentions to tap into the burgeoning base of WeChat’s US users.

The announcement comes after the brokerage launched a successful run of its chat-enabled service in Hong Kong last August. While this did not land TD Ameritrade’s service in mainland China, the successful test within the territory presented an opportunity to expand the service for US users to access a mobile-optimized portal to view market data and access some of the brokerage’s educational content.

“There’s a very high need for information and education around [investing],” said Sunayna Tuteja, Director of Emerging Technologies, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at TD Ameritrade about the newly mobile platform. “You can learn more about [each] company and understand its products better.”

Education Station

Known in China as Weixin, WeChat boasts a monthly active user base of more than 1 billion people, with many of those users in China. Since its introduction in 2011 as a messaging service, the mobile app has developed into a full-spectrum information-sharing platform, offering everything from global text messaging to a social network and even the ability to execute person-to-person payments or track third-party delivery sites to keep an eye on shipments.

TD Ameritrade’s contribution to the app will be a stripped-down “mini-program” where US users can access market data, get account balance information, chat with agents, and get schooled on complex consumer and financial information.

“One of the things we hear from our clients in Asia is there’s a lot of information coming at consumers; what they need is the education to help make sense of that information,” adds Tuteja. “If you’re new to investing and want to learn, but don’t really know where to start, you come to the education portal and we offer you a video.”

The engineers behind the app have also taken advantage of WeChat’s unique interface and capabilities to increase the programs ease of use. Users can quickly switch between videos with a shake of their phone. The fast and intuitive haptic addition aims to help both users and the program’s AI easily fine-tune appropriate content suggestions.

Aggressive Expansion

While the partnership between TDA and WeChat bodes well for both companies’ efforts to expand their services to untapped market segments, the alliance is a major boost for the app and its parent company, Tencent, which has long tried to find purchase among a western audience for the all-in-one messaging service. 

With the TDA partnership coming on the heels of the news of Beijing’s growing interest in opening its financial markets to investors around the globe, it’s hard to imagine the deal is the last of its kind, especially as western companies grow equally eager to find connections to the second largest economy in the world. This year has already seen moves from companies like American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) to create partnerships and launch joint ventures with Chinese banks and securities, establishing a western presence in mainland China and vice versa.

But even with the heightened interest around east-meets-west connections, Tuteja highlights a thoughtful caution in this process. 

“The opportunity to bring this to mainland China is at the top of our minds. We’re also aware that it should be done with deliberation though,” she notes. “We’ve been integrating an active clientele who are from Asia and are active users of the app to stay connected. We wanted to meet clients where they are.”


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