New Pay-to-Read Feature Coming to WeChat

By Rachel Deason, February 17, 2017

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WeChat parent company Tencent recently announced imminent plans to add a pay-to-read feature on all of the app’s official accounts. Rumors of such a feature have been swirling around the digital sphere for months, with reports last August of potential charges up to RMB200 per article.

The announcement has been met with mixed reactions from netizens. 26-year-old Beijing resident Huang told state-run Global Times that the feature seems like a logical next step for the popular app. “This is a move that can encourage the creation of original information. I am willing to pay for the WeChat posts that have exclusive content,” Huang said.

Others, like Beijing resident Liu Xi, do not see the point of the new feature. “How can I tell whether the post is worth money if I don't read it first?”

At the start of 2017, WeChat commanded a global user base of 800 million, with 12 million official accounts.

Official accounts can only be set up using a Chinese ID card, but that hasn’t stopped a number of foreigners from entering the game. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates rolled out an official account on Valentine’s Day with a translation of his 2017 annual letter. The post received more than 30,000 views within two hours of its release.

Currently, official accounts with a large following can only make money from advertising.

Tencent reports that the pay-to-read feature is still in testing but will be released “soon.” 

[Image via wechatbusiness.com]

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