Tencent
Visitors use their smarts phones underneath the logo of Tencent at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in BeijingReuters

Chinese internet major Tencent has acquired a $50m (£32m, €45m) stake in Kik Interactive, boosting the Canadian messaging company's valuation to $1bn.

Ontario-based Kik's messaging app is immensely popular with teenagers in North America and has 240 million registered users. It competes with Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat among others.

Tencent already owns WeChat, a widely-used social messaging platform. In addition to its messaging facilities, WeChat allows users to browse e-commerce stores, read the news, pay bills and order taxis. Kik is expected to add those facilities to its platform.

Tencent also owns another messaging platform named QQ. WeChat and QQ each has more than 600 million monthly active users, primarily in China.

"Today, there are only five other companies in the world that see the future like we do: Tencent, Line, Facebook, Snapchat and Telegram. One of them owns the largest internet market in the world. We couldn't be more excited to partner with them as we run this race," Kik's CEO, Ted Livingston, said commenting on the investment.

"It was clear they understood chat deeply, making them a great sounding board."

Kik earlier in 2015 hired investment bank Qatalyst Partners to hold discussions with big internet companies across the world about a possible sale or investment.

In November 2014, the company raised about $40m from investors including Valiant Capital Partners, Millennium Technology Value Partners and SV Angel. It has so far raised $120.5m from investors.