When personal computers were not widely available with Chinese households that many had to visit Internet cafes, the Chinese cafe operators and third-party service providers created some interesting revenue steams.

Apart from charging a time-based fee for using a computer, the Chinese Internet cafes also made money through advertising or commissions from Internet companies such as search service Baidu and gaming companies like Shanda.

Shanda came up with the idea of selling points used for in-game purchases at Internet cafes, and developed a system for selling points online. Previously points had been sold by certain distributors or at newsstands. In 2002 when Shanda had 60% of China’s online gaming market, 65% of the point sales were through thousands of Internet cafes across China (source in Chinese).

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com