Chinese short video app Zynn on Monday halted its practice of paying users to watch videos and invite friends to use the app, just days after it was removed from both Google’s Play store and the Apple App Store.

Why it matters: Zynn, developed by Chinese tech company Kuaishou, is part of the company’s efforts to challenge Bytedance’s Tiktok in overseas markets. However, Zynn has experienced a series of setbacks after launching in May.

  • The pay-to-watch approach quickly sent Zynn to the top of download charts in the US earlier this month. New users earned $1 for signing up and more for watching videos. They also could earn up to $20 for every five friends who downloaded the app and watched, according to the Financial Times.
  • Kuaishou, with 300 million daily active users (DAU), is China’s second-largest short video app behind Douyin, the domestic version of Tiktok, which has 400 million DAU.

Details: Zynn has replaced the payment feature with a new rewards system called Zynncheers, which gives users points, instead of cash, for signing up and watching videos, according to The Verge.

  • Zynn says users will get “benefits and rewards” for collecting those points, but it didn’t offer details. 
  • The changes came days after the app was taken down by both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Context: Launched in May, Zynn became the most downloaded app on the US App Store in the first week of June, according to app data provider Sensor Tower. The app notched more than 2 million installs worldwide in May.

  • Google removed the app from its Play Store last week after finding one video was “plagiarized,” the company told the Financial Times.
  • Before that, a number of social media influencers complained to Wired that they found videos they had originally uploaded to Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok were reposted to Zynn without their consent.

Wei Sheng

Writing about semiconductors and telecommunications.