New Delhi, Apr 11: In order to take on Facebook-owned WhatsApp, homegrown messaging app Hike Messenger has planned to focus on regional languages with an aim to bring a billion people online. Hike Messenger will shift its focus to residents of tier-2 and tier-3 cities to tap a wider audience. The application already has expressive localised stickers and a library of close to 20,000 stickers in over 40 local languages.

“The next wave of growth for messaging platforms will come from tier-2 and tier-3 cities, led by local language content,” Hike Messenger said in a statement in March. Google estimates 30 percent of users in India to be living in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, the company pointed out. “Looking at the stats, there is a huge chunk of the population who are essentially untapped, given linguistic barriers,” it said in the statement.

Hike Messenger has planned to bring a billion people online and believes this target can be achieved when users are able to communicate in their respective languages. The company runs Hike News, which supports English, Hindi and seven other regional languages such as Marathi, Gujarati, and Tamil, among others. Hike Messenger has a feature that allows text typed in any language to be converted into a sticker by the user.

Hike Messenger, which was launched in 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal, has acquired a user base of 100 million over the last five years. Hike Messenger faces a tough competition from WhatsApp, which has one billion users globally and is one of the most popular mediums of instant messaging in India.