Business / Companies

WeChat users stay loyal despite new online banking fee

By Luo Weiteng in Hong Kong ( Updated: 2016-03-17 19:44

WeChat, the most widely used messaging app in the Chinese mainland, said it hasn’t seen users migrating to other services such as Alibaba’s Alipay since imposing a charge on users for online banking transactions this month.

Pony Ma Huateng, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Tencent Holdings Ltd, said in Hong Kong on Thursday that escalating costs for online banking transactions, which reached up to 300 million yuan in January alone, left the games and messaging company no choice but to charge for cash transfers.

Tencent’s popular mobile messaging app WeChat began from March 1 charging users in the Chinese mainland a fee of 0.1 percent for transfers made to personal bank accounts where the sum exceeds 1,000 yuan via its built-in digital wallet service.

Martin Lau, president of games and messaging company Tencent Holdings Ltd, said the fee proved to only affect users involved in large transactions, rather than ordinary users who normally pay and transfer money within WeChat’s own business ecosystem and whose WeChat Wallet's account balance is usually no more than 1,000 yuan.

The comments came as Tencent announced that its fourth-quarter profit rose 22 percent as the company generated more money from the burgeoning online games and advertising business banking on more than 1.5 billion users of its WeChat and QQ messaging services.

Net profit jumped to 7.16 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in the three months ended December, the Shenzhen-based company said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, slightly missing the estimated 7.78 billion yuan compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue climbed 45 percent to 30.4 billion yuan, beating analysts estimates of 27.86 billion yuan.

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