Vietnam’s popular messaging app Zalo under regulatory pressure

Regulators say Zalo, already with 100 million users, has not been licensed to operate as a social media network.

A web version of Zalo, considered Vietnam's most popular homegrown social media app, is shown here. Photo source: Zalo Facebook Page.

Vietnamese popular messaging app Zalo, a product created by the country’s only tech unicorn VNG, has been under pressure from regulators to register as a social media network or otherwise risk losing both the zalo.me and zalo.vn domains.

Speaking at a recent press conference of the government’s monthly cabinet meeting, Le Quang Tu Do, deputy director of Vietnam’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications, acknowledged that regulators from the Ministry found Zalo to be in violation of local regulations for serving users as a social media network while only registered as an over-the-top messaging app.

He said that his Ministry had subjected Zalo to an administrative fine and granted the company time to apply for the license while allowing Zalo to operate normally, as it is amid fierce competition with foreign social media giants.

Launched by VNG Corporation in 2012, Zalo officially reached the 100 million users milestone in May 2018 and is considered  Vietnam’s answer to WhatsApp. The app has also been chosen by local governments in 26 localities to act as official online portal for administrative procedures and interaction with citizens.

KrAsia reached out to Zalo by email but has not yet received a response.