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Q&A biz turns knowledge into buying power

Reporter: Sun Ye 丨 CCTV.com

12-25-2016 13:03 BJT

Another trend arising out of the online world paying for better answers to life's many questions. More Chinese internet users are showing a willingness to pay to quench their thirst for knowledge. Maybe online talk is no longer cheap. 

Would you pay to get an answer online? And how much?

"Yes, yes, I'll pay if there is such a service."

"To get answers to questions on my health, I'll pay 50 to 100 yuan."

"I'd like something like that. And I'd pay 100 yuan, tops."

Some are already meeting these appetites.

Weng Xin uses a popular online knowledge-sharing platform, Zhihu, to dole out answers in demand. Zhihu, similar to the US question-and-answer site Quora, offers paid Q-and-A sessions, or hourlong online meet-ups with experts... for the price of an admission ticket. 

For now, the proceeds all go to the speaker.

"Since I signed up for the service in June, I've grossed more than 50,000 yuan in my 25 live group sessions. I also got so many new perspectives from all the questions posed on my line of work. I'd say my gains are huge," said Weng Xin, art dealer.

The hottest live session on the platform so far is this: how to dress right. More than 30,000 enrolled. The speaker earned 180,000 yuan.

That's about 26,000 U.S. dollars. Developers say the product, not yet one year old, matches the supply and demand each side wants.

"It's a very efficient way to get your answers. No hassle and no wait. For the speakers, the entry ticket sifts out those who don't really want to know. Demand for live sessions has grown beyond our imagination," said Zheng Ziyang, product manager, Zhihu Live.

Zheng said 80 percent of its 1.4 million users have a bachelor's degree. Most are in their 20s.

"We also owe our success to these things: For one, mobile payments have become so easy these days. And then people have grown used to paying for quality services online. The number of people who do this will only get bigger in time," Zheng said.

And it's not the only product cashing in on the country's growing thirst for knowledge. And a recent report says a majority of China's 100 million middle class are game to pay for an answer.

So knowledge is indeed power -- buying power, at that.

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