China launched a 100 billion yuan (about US$14.6 billion) Internet investment fund on Sunday (22 January 2017), Xinhua Net reported.
The Cyberspace Administration of China and Ministry of Finance fund will support internet companies and the Internet Plus action plan via equity investment, according to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of the largest investors of the fund.
The fund has already raised 30 billion yuan from state-owned banks and enterprises, including ICBC, which invested 10 billion yuan.
ICBC, together with the China Development Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China, will provide financial services and 150 billion yuan of credit to enterprises that have attracted investment from the fund.
China's internet population hits 731 million in 2016
China's internet users increased at the fastest pace in three years, expanding 6.2 percent in 2016 and gaining 43 million internet users. This results in the country's internet population hitting 721 million, according to data by the China Network Information Centre (CNIC).
High penetration rate and a slowdown from double-digit growth, put pressure on internet companies to find ways to attract users, South China Morning Post said in a report on 22 January 2017. Penetration rate rose by 3.1 percentage points to 53.2 percent, CNIC data showed.
The increasing penetration rate means that internet companies can no longer simply rely on the growth of overall user population to bolster their traffic and usage.
They now have to work harder to attract visitors to their sites, or to download their applications. This requires billions in development, marketing and subsidy dollars.
For example, China's dominant internet search engine Baidu has invested billions in artificial intelligence, with applications in problem-solving bots to self-driving automobiles.
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