(Yicai Global) May 10 -- Chinese online learning platforms Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang were both given the maximum fine possible for sham advertising campaigns that deceived customers, the market regulator said today.
Operators Beijing Yuanli Education Technology and Boat Out of Sea Education Technology were each penalized CNY2.5 million (USD388,700), the State Administration for Market Regulation said.
Yuanfudao, the world’s most valuable education technology company worth USD15.5 billion as of October last year, falsely promoted its classroom courses as “one-to-one” tutoring and fudged teachers’ experience, the watchdog said.
Zuoyebang, another Beijing-based edtech unicorn which raked in another USD1.6 billion in funding last December, lied about “co-operating with the United Nations” on its website and also faked teachers’ credentials, it said.
Both e-educators inflated then discounted course prices to trick customers into signing up, it added.
The two companies accept the decision and will take all necessary corrective action, online news outlet The Paper reported.
The Covid-19 pandemic has given online tutors an unexpected boost as many schools turned to home learning. The scale of China’s kindergarten through twelfth grade e-teaching last year is likely to be one-and-a-half times that of the year before at CNY168.7 billion (USD26.2 billion), according to US market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Editor: Kim Taylor