SHANGHAI, March 31 Users of Tencent Holdings'
hugely popular mobile chatting application may have to
pay fees in future to satisfy China's three mobile telecom
operators, Chinese media quoted a government official as saying
Tencent's Weixin, or WeChat, chatting application (app) is
currently free and has more than 300 million users. The app is
positioned as the next bright revenue spot for Tencent.
However, media reported that Chinese telecom operators such
as China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom and China
Telecom Corp, are looking to charge users for the app
because of its large data bandwidth use.
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the
regulatory body that governs the Internet and telecommunications
sectors, is looking at the possibility of users having to pay a
small fee to the telcos to use the app, said Miao Wei, head of
the ministry, according to Caixin Media.
Experts say charging a fee could affect its popularity.
Tencent, China's largest online gaming and social networking
company, said recently it plans to invest heavily in Weixin to
attract more overseas users.
Chinese media also reported this month that China Mobile is
in the process of developing its mobile instant-messaging app,
Fetion, to compete with Tencent better.
(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Paul Tait)