WeChat will lose users if it starts to charge: survey


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Free mobile messaging service application WeChat will lose a chunk of users if rumors that it plans to start charging subscribers are true, according to the results of a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by Avanti, a division of global market research firm TrendForce, found that over 66 percent of WeChat users will stop using the popular service if it starts to charge.

In addition, nearly a quarter of the surveyed users said they believe the app will continue to be free.

The survey came amid growing consumer outrage as rumors emerged that Chinese telecom operators are working on a plan to charge for use of the country’s most popular free mobile application.

However, Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., which developed and launched WeChat in 2011, has denied the rumors, reiterating that the app will continue to be free.

WeChat currently has over 300 million users worldwide, mostly in China, the company said.

The survey collected 2,542 valid samples in early April. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Tencent is mulling integrating the free app with e-commerce, a move that is considered to find its business niche.

In a concept video clip shown at a forum on branding and innovation earlier this month, people were seen interacting with their friends via WeChat and buying things, paying restaurant bills and carrying out other transactions through the mobile app.