Momo Emoticon Market

Location-based social app Momo, launched 4.0 version with an emoticon market and subscription offerings, an obvious move for monetization.

The emoticon part must remind you of LINE, the Japan-based messaging app that made about $17 million from emoticons alone in Q1 2013, and the subscription model is a proven one in China, adopted by almost all kinds of Internet service for monetization, and still believed to be a good business model here.

The subscription package offers twelve privileges; for instance, subscribers can follow more users and have more people in a chatting group. It is sold for 12 yuan (about $1.9) per month or 30 yuan per quarter. It’d be cheaper if you subscribe to it for a year.

The package also includes free emoticons or discounted ones. Of course you can buy them directly if you want more. A virtual currency, Momo Coin, is introduced for the convenience of purchases. The most expensive emoticons are for about 12 yuan each, or 10.8 yuan for subscribers — it sounds very expensive to me. However, I’d soon be reminded that Chinese users would spend several hundred yuan on a QQ Show, a virtual costume or item created for Tencent’s QQ IM. And LINE also has justified the model.

Momo, launched in August 2011, announced 30 million users in March this year. It raised $2.5 million funding from Matrix Partners in 2011 and $40 million Series B funding from Alibaba Group, DST and Matrix Partners in August 2012.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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