India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology announced Wednesday that it will ban over 100 Chinese apps from the country to "ensure the safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace." Among the apps banned are some of the most popular in the country, such as Tencent's ($HK:700) Player Unknown's Battlegrounds: Mobile and WeChat Work, as well as Alibaba's ($BABA) payment app Alipay. The announcement follows a decision earlier this summer from the Ministry to ban 59 Chinese apps for similar violations, then including WeChat and TikTok.
The ban is the latest move in a fued between the two nations, as India tries to lock Chinese apps out of one of their fastest growing markets. Tencent is one of the largest companies affected by the ban, as its two apps PUBG and WeChat are some of the most popular apps in India and top performers for the Chinese tech conglomerate, which has faced punitive measures worldwide as a result of its alleged datamining practices. The United States filed an executive order weeks after India's first wave of bans in July stating that any transactions involving WeChat would be banned in September. WeChat was cut off from two of its largest markets in the United States and India, and now its workplace equivalent, Wechat Work, has lost this market as well. Video game PUBG was also one of the most popular apps in India, having been downloaded over 175 million times as of this summer.
It may be hard for Tencent to recoup the loss of PUBG in other markets. The game kicked off the battle royale genre which now dominates video games, but faces steep competition from games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite (both of which are also partially owned by Tencent) and Apex Legends. These constitute two of the most popular games in the world, but Fortnite was also recently banned from the Google Play and Apple App Stores after Epic defied their payment policies and launched high-profile lawsuits against the companies. With a sudden vaccuum of multiplayer mobile games left by the banning of PUBG, Warzone or other competitors are likely to stake their claim on the Indian market.
The loss of WeChat also opens up opportunities for applications such as Facebook's Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to become the dominant messaging apps in the country. WeChat Work's market share will likely be fought over by workplace communications apps Slack ($WORK) and Asana ($PRIVATE:ASANA), which is co-founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and is expected to announce an IPO soon. Asana is well-equipped to quickly sieze on the vacant Indian market, as it recently raised $200 million in a debt deal.
Stripe ($PRIVATE:STRIPE) is the app most likely to benefit from the loss of Alipay. At a $36 billion valuation, Stripe already has a large presence in India and is one of Alipay's biggest competitors. Though fintech and payment apps are a field with steep competition, Stripe has the branding power and capital to swoop in and capture Alipay's lost customers.