WeChat is testing a paywall feature for Official Account. Qualified WeChat subscription official accounts can activate this feature and hide the full or partial content.
The paywall feature supports both iOS and Android devices. On iOS, it connects with Apple’s in-app purchase while it uses WeChat Pay on Android smartphones.
What accounts are qualified?
Subscription official accounts that have been registered for more than 3 months with 3 original articles and without serious violation records in the past 3 months. Currently, qualified accounts may be selected to test the feature.
Account owners can charge one of 35 prices between 1 yuan (15 US cents) and 208 yuan (USD30) per article. The earning fully goes to the account owners (except iOS devices when they need to share the profit with Apple).
The paywall is on a per article basis; so, no subscription model is available. The paid article will show an indication in the news stream. Paid article text can not be copied but the images can be saved.
WeChat confirmed its testing of paid subscription in early 2017 but never officially launched; and, it seems a different feature from the paywall for individual articles.
Though the feature comes a bit late since the official accounts have been around for several years, some still rise with WeChat such as Uncle Kai’s Storytime, founded by an ex-CCTV host. Its WeChat official accounts articles generate over 10 million views per month with over 2,000 stories and a total play of 1.5 billion. WeChat is not the only digital platform to make money from information product in China.
“Paid knowledge” market is a rising segment in China in the past few years. More Chinese internet users are used to pay for information and knowledge. The market penetration of paid knowledge reached 21.1% in 2018, up by 77.3% year-on-year.