More mainlanders will, within two years, access the Internet through a mobile telephone than a personal computer, thanks to the launch of wireless application protocol (WAP) services last week, an official of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) said. Last Wednesday, the mainland's three mobile-telephone companies launched WAP services, enabling subscribers to trade stocks and move money from their bank accounts over the Internet for the first time. China Mobile Communications, China Unicom and China Telecom Group began their WAP business on the same day. The MII has forecast more than 20 million new customers will buy mobiles this year, taking the total to 55 million to 60 million. That would move the mainland ahead of Japan as the world's second-largest mobile-phone market after the United States. Zhao Xiaofan, deputy chief of the MII division for promoting computerisation, said that by 2002 the mainland would have 65 million Internet users, with more using mobile telephones than PCs. According to official figures, there were 8.9 million Internet users at the end of last year. 'WAP is at the forefront of telecommunications in the world,' said a foreign telecom consultant. 'Finland and Sweden are the world leaders in WAP. In China, far more people have mobile telephones than personal computers, so that WAP will be the way for millions to access the Internet for the first time. 'In addition, many users of mobiles are business people who may not know how to use a PC. Once they master WAP, they will be able to do e-commerce.' China Mobile, part of China Telecom before it was split off into a separate company, is the market leader in mobiles. It said its WAP services would include stock trading, banking and the use of Internet telephony to make calls worldwide. It launched last week a Web site called 169wap.net, which provides news, weather forecasts, stock market information, commercial information and currency rates. It will allow users to receive medical advice from doctors and to manage home appliances electronically. China Unicom launched its WAP services in 20 cities. It also offers news, weather, stock information, train and aircraft schedules as well as consumer, sport and entertainment information. The media is full of advertisements for the new services. In one, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China offered account balances, money transfers, loss reports and would later offer foreign exchange trading.