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A yuan for your thoughts? Fenda provides

Service for one-minute answers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 2016, 9:06am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 2016, 3:08pm

“Have you eavesdropped on Fenda yet?”

That question has become one of the most popular salutations over the past few weeks among mainland Chinese social-media users, especially white-collar workers in the country’s urban cities.

It is the result of their growing obsession with Fenda, a new question-and-answer online service which has drawn some comparisons to Quora and Reddit in the United States.

Fenda, which has a public account on Tencent Holdings’ popular WeChat platform, was launched on May 15 by Beijing-based Zaihang.com, a knowledge-sharing website that specialises in popular science.

Users of Fenda, which translates to “one-minute answers” in Chinese, are encouraged to make some money by either asking or answering questions.

Those with some knowledge to share can set a price from one yuan to a few thousand yuan for answering a question. The answers are delivered via voice message, capped at 60 seconds.

Users can pay the preset price and ask any kind of question to whomever they want on the site. For one yuan, other users can simply eavesdrop and listen to the reply.

Money is returned to users whose questions are ignored by those in session sharing their knowledge.

The fees charged from eavesdropping are split between the user who asked a question and the user who posted an answer.

The more users eavesdrop, the more money question-and-answer participants are supposed to make.

According to Zaihang.com, Fenda recorded more than one million paid users within the first three days of its launch.

Among those who have joined Fenda are popular artists in the entertainment industry, online celebrities, high-profile businessmen and even scions of mainland China’s largest companies.

These include actress Zhang Ziyi of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame, property giant Vantone Holdings chairman Feng Lun and Wang Sicong, the son of China’s richest man — Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin.

The younger Wang has become the most popular responder on Fenda.

As of Wednesday, Wang reportedly made more than 200,000 yuan by answering 32 questions on Fenda, including this one: “Is there anything you cannot afford as the son of the richest man in Asia?”

More than 18,000 people have paid one yuan each to hear Wang’s answer: “I can afford any commodity that can be bought and sold in the market, but … there are still things that money cannot buy, like love, freedom and dignity. As a Chinese, I would think twice before spending money on goods which are too luxurious or might cause public anger.”

Wu Yunfei, the assistant to Zaihang.com chief executive Ji Shisan, declined to provide the total number of registered users on Fenda. He said Fenda’s user base was “growing at a remarkable rate” because the service allows ordinary people to gain some access to celebrities and other persons of interest.

Specialist professionals like doctors, teachers and researchers who usually work for state-run organisations have also raked in profits from participating in the Fenda question-and-answer sessions.

According to Zaihang.com, one the highest earners on Fenda is gynaecologist Zhang Yu from the prestigious Peking Union Medical College Hospital.

She answered 439 questions on topics such as period pains and how to get pregnant. She has cashed in more than 53,000 yuan as of Wednesday.

With her new-found popularity, Zhang has raised her price for responding to questions to 439 yuan per reply from 128 yuan.

“Fenda’s success shows that knowledge is always valuable, and people can trade knowledge by sharing what they know on any specific subject,” Wu said.

Guan Zhi, a Guangzhou-based user of Fenda, claimed to have paid more than 300 yuan to ask questions to various celebrities and specialist professionals on Fenda last week.

“Without Fenda, I would never have had a chance to reach them directly,” Guan said.