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China has a girlfriend rental app. Check It Out.

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By Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo | BEIJING

As millions in China head home to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday with their families, 24-year-old Luoluo is busy answering messages on a mobile app from desperate men looking to hire an instant girlfriend whom they can present to mom and dad.

On visits home during the holiday, which kicks off on Friday, single people are often subjected to tough lectures from relatives keen on reinforcing the importance of marriage and securing the family blood line.

Some singles resort to hiring fake girlfriends and boyfriends to appease their parents. But an explosion in smartphone use in recent years means one can now pay for such a date through a handful of mobile apps, with just a few clicks.

“Over 1,000 users on our platform have signed up as dates for hire for the New Year break,” Cao Tiantian, founder of date-for-hire app Hire Me Plz, told Reuters.

Subscribers to the app pay from as little as 1 yuan ($0.15) to 1,999 yuan an hour for a dinner date, a chat, a game of mah-jong or even a foot massage.

Prices surge around the time of Lunar New Year, with thousands of attractive twenty-somethings like Luoluo commanding fees of 3,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan a day.

“I’m still seeking people to fill my time slots,” said the woman from the southwestern province of Sichuan, who has just two half-day slots left to fill over the next seven days.

“But only those who stay in the same province as me. I don’t have time to waste on travel,” she added.

Apart from Hire Me Plz, there are five major date-hiring apps in China, which make their money by taking a cut from hires, and also from subscription fees.

“Our business model is still new, though an increasing number of young people have accepted the idea of selling their time as commodity,” said Beijing-based Cao, who expects date-rental to become a multi-billion dollar market in five years.

 

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