Messaging app Hike has raised $7 million in funding from Bharti SoftBank. It’s not immediately clear how Hike plans to utilize the funds raised. We have contacted Hike and would update the post once we receive a response.

Hike recently announced that it has crossed 5 million users since its global launch in December 2012. Hike had also informed MediaNama that 60% of its user base is from India and the rest global led by Middle East and Europe. Around 20% of its overall messaging traffic comes from its Hike2sms feature.

Besides this, Hike also revamped its app adding new features such as status update with moods, circle of friends, mute notifications, among others. The revamped app with updated features is available on Apple’s iOS devicesAndroid and Windows Phone 8 devices. New features like Status Updates & Moods feature has not been rolled out to Hike’s Windows Phone 7 app and Symbian app.

What should Hike do?

The messaging app market is quite crowded and Hike competes with WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Kik, Line, Facebook Messenger among others. Among all, WhatsApp seems to be particularly popular in the country. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced at the AllthingsD’s Dive Into Mobile Conference that WhatsApp  has more than 200 million monthly active users. WeChat, a rich media data messaging app by Tencent, had also crossed 300 million users globally on January 15, 2012.

Whats probably driving WhatsApp in the country is its partnership with telecom operators and handset manufacturers. Recently, Nokia launched Nokia Asha 210, a single and dual-SIM handset with QWERTY keypad and a dedicated WhatsApp button. The handset comes with lifetime free WhatsApp subscription. Earlier, it had signed a telco partnership deal with Reliance Communications to offer free access (along with free Facebook access, SMS at Rs 0.05 each, group SMS at Rs 3 each) for Rs 16/month.

Hike’s proximity with Bharti Enterprises and Japanese Telecommunication firm SoftBank puts it in a unique position to ink deals with telcos. Deny if you will but tie-ups with telcos drives a lot of traction from users. Its Hike2SMS is already quite distinguished feature from other messaging apps, where it offers 100 free SMSes every month to each users. India is still at the crux of the entire smartphone and internet adoption space. Discounts on data with telcos might drive the apps usage and adoption speed.