Chinese dating app that allows users to offer cash 'not an escort service', says creator

The 'sugar daddies' app will debut in Hong Kong tomorrow

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 10:35am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 8:05am

The entrepreneur behind a new dating app that encourages users to offer a cash 'reward' in exchange for dates has defended criticism likening it to an escort service.

Shanghai-based creator of Spoil (宠爱), Lenny Lv, told that his app made dating more “efficient” for high-net-worth individuals in China.

Since its launch in December last year, more than 30,000 Chinese have dated via the web and mobile version of the app which will be accepting registrations from users in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau  beginning tomorrow.

A 25-year-old entrepreneur from Zhejiang province, Lv said high-net-worth individuals in China often want to avoid wasting time sifting through online ads, followed by “endless” back and forth of email conversations. They also tend tend to be generous gifters, Lv explained.

These high-net-worth users sign up on Spoil as “successful individuals(SI).” They then invite their desired partners - mostly women aged 18-24 who have signed up as “attractive individuals”(AI) - out on a date.

The SI then makes an offer that explains the nature of the event - a movie or a dinner for example - and sweeten it up with a certain amount of cash reward.

The AI, upon reviewing details of the offer as well as profile of the SI, which usually shows a portrait and an annual income figure, will then decide whether to accept the offer.

Once the AI accepts the offer, his or her phone number will be sent to the SI.

“People who are willing to trade their personal numbers for cash are more ‘datable’ than those who don’t,” Lv said. “And this makes life easier for the rich and successful date seekers.”

The majority of date seekers on Spoil are men who make 200,000 yuan to 1 million yuan a year. They gift their partners an average of 600 yuan (HK$760 ) on first dates, according to statistics collected by Lv’s team. And the top events people choose on first dates are movies, dinners and sports activities.

Lv dismissed criticism that the app is encouraging escort services. He said most users are mature and sophisticated.

Lv himself went out on a date with a college student via Spoil last year and had gifted her 300 yuan, he said.

“The cash I offered reduced the cost of our communication and worked in my favour,” he said  in retrospect.

Dandan (not her real name), an AI user and 22-year-old college graduate from Beijing, admitted she was drawn to the app since it boasts a reservoir of “successful men.”

She said she had been chatting with more than a dozen men through the app since she discovered it a month ago. However, she hasn’t gone out on a date with any SI yet.

“It’s not about how much money is being offered,” she said, “it’s about finding the right person.” And that has yet to happen, she says.

Wu Tao, a Chengdu-based lawyer, said when two adults agree to meet and do activities through online apps, they are seen as two parties entering an agreement. No laws are being violated as long as the two parties don’t go on to conduct criminal activities, he said.


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