Messaging app Kik Interactive has secured $50 million in Series D funding from Tencent Holdings Ltd., the giant behind chat apps WeChat and Mobile QQ and the largest Internet company in China.

The strategic investment tips the Waterloo-based company’s value to $1 billion, and will aid it in building an ecosystem of experiences based around chat, Kik said today in a news release.

In a Medium post, Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston wrote that visiting China showed him a world where “the chat app became a magic wand to interact with the world around you,” and reaffirmed his hope that Kik will become “the WeChat of the West.”

“Of all the people that really understand chat, Tencent is by far the farthest ahead in where we want to go,” Livingston told the Wall Street Journal, which reported that recent investments “appear to be a signal that Tencent has no plans to enter the U.S. with its Chinese messaging apps.”

The investment comes at a time when Kik is in a horse race with Snapchat Inc. for American teenagers. While Snapchat reports over 100 million users, Kik boasts 240 million – the company claims 40 per cent of U.S. teens use the app.

Kik has recently integrated games and other apps, like Soundcloud, but has much greater ambitions, arguing for a world where people book taxis, shop, order food, pay bills and follow celebrities with a chat app.

Livingston calls chat “the simplest way to connect with the world around you,” and says consumers are “increasingly seeing the potential for services to be delivered in better, lighter-weight ways through chat, especially with bots.”

On Medium, Livingston wrote about witnessing the Chinese chat ecosystem firsthand, where people printed photos, redeemed coupons and paid for drinks with their phones by chatting with bots. “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.”