In its latest effort to tap into China’s growing online education market, tech giant Alibaba has released a new app that lets students ask and pay others for answers to their homework-related questions, local media Techplanet reported.
The new platform, named Bangbangda (which translates to “Help Me Answer”), allows students to post questions to be answered by other users, or “answer providers”, for a fee of RMB 4 (USD 0.58) to RMB 90 depending on the type of question and difficulty.
Currently, the app is open to those from grades one to 12, and the subjects covered are math, physics, chemistry, Chinese, and English. Answer providers must pass a test on their subjects of expertise to join and are paid a percentage of the fee.
All questions go through a review process before being published on the platform. If no one takes the question within 10 minutes, it will be answered free of charge, with the tab to pay the answer provider picked up by Bangbangda.
In its current state, the app appears bare-bones with only a few functions provided, including payment linking, registration, and a question input page. When KrASIA tested the app using an answer provider account on March 9, there were no questions on the platform. Bangbangda is currently only available on the Android app store.
Alibaba has already started to explore the online education market prior to releasing this app. Its online collaboration tool, DingTalk, has launched a set of features to simplify online classes for Chinese teachers and students during the coronavirus outbreak, also allowing teachers to easily grade students’ assignments online.
Youku, Alibaba’s video streaming unit, has also introduced a “study at home” platform which allows primary and secondary school students to watch online courses for free. Over 10,000 teachers and more than 300 education companies have joined the platform, including New Oriental Group, YuanFudao, and 51Talk.
China’s online education market has experienced continuous growth in the past five years, and is expected to be worth RMB 453.8 billion (USD 65.4 billion) in 2020, according to industry research firm iiMedia.