Sina Weibo has started charging its users if they want extra services. (File photo/CFP)
Sina Weibo, China's most popular version of Twitter, will to start charging its members 10 yuan (US$1.57) per month for extra services from June 18.
Paying members will be allowed to enjoy special functions, mobile features and increased security, said the company. The move is regarded as the first step towards Sina Weibo's commercialization, a plan the company has had for some time.
Around 80% of internet users say they will not pay for the service. Only 2.3% of users have said they will upgrade to the pay service, and 18.4% said they will "wait and see" before making their minds up.
Before the announcement, another one of China's major microblogs, Tencent QQ, also started charging members for extra services.
Other major microblogs such as Netease Weibo and Sohu Weibo said they will not follow the policy. "Sina's move is an advantage for Sohu. Our company will never charge members, and we welcome all of Sina's members to move to Sohu," said Fang Gang, the web portal's vice president.
Wang Liyang, a senior internet analyst at Itxinwen, said Sohu is just looking for attention as the company's operations are much smaller than those of Sina.
Sina Weibo 新浪微博
Tencent QQ 騰訊 QQ