In China, you know something has become big when the government starts worrying about how to regulate it. (Come to think of it, that’s the way it is with most governments, not just China’s.)
China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, has asked the Finance Department of People’s University in Beijing to come up with draft plans to regulate micropayments in China. (People’s University is traditionally the training ground for government officials.) Right now, micropayments occupy a gray area, which means that they are not technically legal or illegal. They just exist.
And they are unregulated. Right now, the Chinese government has no idea about how to regulate this market, which it obviously expects to grow substantially. Some have even grumbled that this new virtual economy will eventually grow in size to rival offline economies.
The most successful subscription micropayment based company in China is Tencent, which is based in Shenzhen and gets unofficial support from the Guangdong provincial government. (The Chinese have a saying: 天高皇帝远 which literally means “The skies are higher when the emperor is farther away.” Unfortunately for most western companies, they are not aware of and do not heed this very wise Chinese saying.) It has its own virtual currency, the QQ-Coin, which can be purchased one-way with Chinese yuan, but cannot be converted back into Chinese yuan. The company recently announced record earnings.
You get big, you get regulated.