Single men in China are turning to an app called Hire Me Plz to rent a girlfriend to take home for Lunar New Year in an effort to please their parents.
Pressure is put upon young single people to settle down as family members gather for the Chinese New Year to begin the inquisition and secure the family blood line.
A spike in smartphone use over the past couple of years means date-for-hire apps, such as the aptly named Hire Me Plz, allow for singles to look for fake girlfriends and boyfriends.
“Over 1,000 users on our platform have signed up as dates for hire for the New Year break,” Cao Tiantian, founder of Hire Me Plz, told Reuters.
Singles can pay to hire a date for as little as 1 yuan ($0.15) to 1,999 yuan ($291) per hour for dinner, a chat, to play games or even a nice foot massage.
However, during Chinese New Year prices can surge up from 3,000 yuan ($436) to 10,000 yuan ($1,454) per day.
LuoLuo, 24, from the southwestern province of Sichuan, is one of the women on Hire Me Plz to offer up her service as a fake girlfriend.
“I’m still seeking people to fill my time slots,” said the woman, who has only two half-day slots left to fill over the next week.
Launched in 2015, Hire Me Plz has racked up more than 700,000 users and 1.7 million followers on China’s most popular mobile social media network, WeChat.
“Our business model is still new, though an increasing number of young people have accepted the idea of selling their time as commodity,” said Tiantian.
The app’s initial purpose was to cope with feelings of loneliness experienced by people who live by themselves and work in big cities.
“I was seeking a more effective way to ask someone out. Who wants to chat for months via social networks and end up with nothing?” she said.
Mobile apps like Hire Me Plz offer more security for users as they require identity authentication compared to classifieds on Baidu’s Tieba and Tencent’s QQ messaging service.
It must be noted that sex is not one of the services offered on any of the mobile apps as prostitution is still illegal in China.