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Tencent confirms WeChat will introduce paid content for official accounts
Editor’s note: A version of this post first appeared on Yicai Global, the English-language financial news service of Shanghai Media Group. Yicai Global is one of just two dedicated Chinese news feeds connected to the Bloomberg terminal.
WeChat, Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s social networking and chat app, will roll out paid services for the content offered by official accounts, an authority at the Chinese internet giant told Yicai Global.
WeChat invited selected official accounts to trial its paid content function, which is not open to general users for the time being. Posting ads and original content remain the primary ways for official, or business accounts, to earn revenue through the platform.
The challenge for WeChat is to attract paying customers for its reading services when there is a common perception online content is largely free.
A survey of more than 1,700 netizens conducted by a Tencent research unit found 55 percent of respondents had paid for professional knowledge or advice, including paid content and documents in the past year. Over 50 percent of Chinese netizens have paid or are willing to pay for contents, compared with only 30 percent two years ago, an iResearch report found.
Zhihu, a knowledge-sharing app similar to Quora.com, which allows readers to pose a question and answer other users’ queries, has been able to monetize its Zhihu Live, an online lecture room. Per capita consumption by users is RMB 52.08 and a one-hour lecture can bring speakers, who are usually specialists in their fields, an average fee of RMB 10,000 (US$ 1,455).