Micropayment with Mobile SMS in China

Related entries: Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective

I read about discussion on webmasterworld.com. Let’s try to describe the society I am in. I live in Shanghai, China.

SMS is hot; SMS is part of people’s life in China

I couldn’t image there is anything that affected people’s life more than Internet two years ago. Now I realized SMS is competing with Internet to change people’s life.

In China, there is only 48.29 million Internet users by end of Nov, 2002 (don’t get me wrong, this number is huge already), but there are 200.3 million mobile users.

I have a friend who spend about 100 RMB every month for SMS. It is only 0.1 RMB per SMS, which means 1000 SMS every month. Young generation (16-20 years old) use SMS more frequently. As I described in this article, Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective, some people just buy a mobile phone and a pre-paid card. They only use the SMS functions as a good way to save money. They don’t use the mobile phone to call.

SMS + TV? SMS + Radio? SMS + newspaper? SMS + ….

SMS is no longer a method for peer-to-peer communication. Some TV programs uses SMS as a feedback channel from the audience. They will put a survey on TV and they can get instant feedbacks. For example, in some competitions, SMS sent by audience will be a factor to choose the final winner. It is the same for the combination of SMS + Radio or newspaper.

SMS applications

More and more companies in Shanghai are using SMS as the information platform. There is a company called Guangxi (or Relation in English). You can send a SMS message to their service number 885074 containing any place name, and they will return the result to you via SMS. It is very handy.

CMCC (China Mobile) allows you to send JFCX to 1861 to query your credit in CMCC. Even the government is using SMS as a quick way to validate the invoice. This way, people cannot make fake invoices.

SMS + Internet

The reason why SMS can generate revenue is, the provider can charge more than the standard 0.1 RMB/message. In http://sms.sina.com.cn, for example, people can download rings, pictures. Sina.com will charge 1.0 RMB/message for most of the download. The fee will appear in the monthly bill of mobile fee of the users. Then communication companies like CMCC will share the revenue with Sina.

For companies like 5460.net, a classmate finder service, information is no longer free. If you want to find a long lost classmate, you can enter his/her name, and the site will list very limited information about the person you are looking for. If you want to get more like his email, mobilephone, …, you need to enter your mobile phone number. The site will send it to you. The trick is, if the site display is on the web site, it is free. But if they send it to you, they can charge you 1 RMB. That is the different. Although it is very small amount of expense for you, the thousands of subscribers do add up to big money.

41 thoughts on “Micropayment with Mobile SMS in China

  1. Thanks John, for link the page. The protester in Beijing reveals something in common in China – protest needs application and approval process, which lead to the contrast of the silence in China and the massive protester in western.

  2. hi im chen..i got friend at malaysia, she can receipt my sms but when she replied to me . i cannot get it , why? of course , she was succed to send it out.

    teach me how to do it, thanks!

  3. Dear Wang Jianshuo,

    I read your article..its really nice..!..I am yuva from germany..Is there any way of sending free sms from germany to azerbaijan cellphones…can u plz guide me…!

    thx in advance for your replies..!

  4. Hello, nice articles you have here. I was wondering how i may send an sms to a china mobile user from the states through sina.com. I’ve tried from the http://sms.sina.com.cn site but I think I may need a sina number or something? or a site subscription? Not sure if you still upkeep this site, but thanks for any info.

  5. From Pakistan I can send sms message to china mobile phones. But uptill now i have not traced any website through which i can send free sms message to china mobiles. If free sms service available, please inform.

  6. dear its me tahir where are u ,wat are u doing jan jee ia m still on my path but missing u , plz responce me if u can plz

  7. Hi Jian,

    I want to send an SMS to a friend in China, but I don’t know his service provider, it could be china mobile or it could be china unicom or another one, but is there a website where I can send an sms from USA where it won’t matter which carrier he uses?

    also does china mobile cell phone numbers have email addresses? for example I use T-mobile in the united states, people can send me an sms to my cell phone number or, they can send an email directly to my phone, which would be mynumber@tmomail.net? this would make sending sms to my friends in china less expensive because t-mobile charges me .15 USD for every SMS I send to china from USA. And I send a lot.

  8. hello, i know how to send SMS to AZERBAIJANIAN mobile phones, but there’re only 2 mobile operators in Azerbaijan, unfortunately it’s possible t send only to AZERCELL users… it’s very easy, u can send SMS from any e-mail address. for examle: number@sms.azercell.com

    without code of mobile operator and country code,

  9. how can I sms to china from my mobile from Malaysia? 13911003727,Is this number a china handphone number?The person I want to contact is in beijing.Pls reply ASAP.Thank You

  10. Hi ,,

    Good stuff ..

    I would like to know if i can sms to my frnd cell phone nu 13482469203 he is in shanghai. I mean sms by yahoo mail.

    mail me ASAP :- ashok@scadex.com

    Thanks in advance.

  11. Hi, I wanna send SMS from Germany to China but cannot get it through the nets. It’s never received in China. However, I can receive SMS from China. Phone calls in both directions to same number are no problem as well. My net provider told me that there must be a net problem, but not in his net. Guess, it’s true because I can send and receive SMS from any other countrie I tried so far.

    According to some magazines I’ve been reading in the last few weeks, the Chinese government is heavily filtering/checking mails, SMS, internet-access, etc. Could that be the reason?

    What to do to get SMS through the channels to my friend in China??

    Thanks in advance!


  12. 1st question: same problem as Gerhard, but from Italy. I need to send SMS to a China Mobile number (137-xxxx-xxxx)

    2nd question: I just came from Shanghai and i brought the China Mobile Sim card with me (137-6455-xxxx), any way to make it work outside China?

    Thanks in advance :-)

  13. I am looking for a cellphone wholesalers in Beijing. will be in Beijing from the 7th to the 11th of November.


  14. HELLO

    The Word ‘Hello’ means H=How R U? E=Everything all right? L=Like 2 hear 4rm U. L=Love 2 C U soon. O=Obviously, I miss you…!!!

  15. Thank you Mr. Wang,

    You seem to be the first person that has posted anything remotely close on this subject. Is there anyway I can E-mail a text message to a cell phone user in China? I know there are a number of North America websites that do this for N. American cell phones but I would dearly like to contact a friend in China who does not have very much Internet access but has a cell phone.

    Thanks in Advance


  16. I sent a sms to beijing from brisbane but they never seem 2 recieve my sms why is that happening?

  17. Hi,

    I have the same problem as Gerhard and Kiza. I need to send SMS to a China Mobile number (+861359…).

    Please, tell me how to do it.

    Thanks in advance.

  18. Hi Chen , tahnk you for this helping website.

    Iám a sauthamiercan guy visiting China one of my freinds here gave to me a CMCC mobile, but i cannot found a website so my family in southamerica can send a messages to this mobile. Do you have any other clue to reach this matter and tehy can send it messages to this phone.

    Again Thank You very much



  19. Hi everybody,,,,,,do you know the way how to send free sms through net to Azerbaijan,,, Azercell number? here I read Ruslan’s answer and did the same way, but look like they don’t accept my sms,,,,I am sending the sms from US, but I think it doesn’t matter,,,,,,I have to find out how to send it……..by phone that’s too much……please…help

    thanks beforehand


  20. Hi

    I want to send free sms to Pakistan from Uk I want to ask you how can i send free massege from my mobile free please help me no cost


  21. Hi, can any one help me i live in the uk….i have a friend in shanghai i send sms but she dont get it but i get hers??

  22. Hi, I m an italian boy, i would to know if you know some international provider for send sms in italy for a good price and good amount. please answer me.Thanks

  23. First there is no FREE sms from internet that you can SMS every where.

    second , if you have a cell phone that’s provided international service. you can anyhow send a SMS to anyone that over the world with the correct “COUNTRY CODE” + “AREA CODE” + “PHONE NUMBER” or “COUNTRY CODE” + “CELL PHONE NUMBER”

    one of the best program that mostly people use with computer internet SMS and calling system

    is “SKYPE” lower rate and provide SMS . search the keyword “skype”

    i’m only passby and giving opinion. bye and good luck

  24. Hi All,

    Looking at this post i can actually help you guys!!

    Those of you who wish to send sms to any part of the world through the net and that too at cheaper rates can log on to http://www.smscountry.com

    We provide smsing solutions to people who need to sms across the globe and without wasting much money!



  25. The Chinese government filters SMS messages sent from overseas into China. Sometimes they will get through, but usually not. Congratulations to anyone living in China, what a great choice of country if you want to live in a box and know nothing of the outside world.

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