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[Shenzhen] Lonely hearts dig deep to date online
Latest Updated by 2007-05-09 09:42:50

WHILE many people are pouring their savings into the stock market, a lot of lonely hearts are paying out generously for online dating services, the Shenzhen Economic Daily said yesterday (May 8).

Despite an annual fee of between 3,680 yuan (US$525) and 30,000 yuan, many people have registered for the VIP service on the Baihe dating Web site, it said.

The service on offer includes arranged dates, consultations and psychological tests. Members need a minimum of a college education and to be "affluent."

Besides its free services, the Jiawo Web site offers matches after a test, which requires a monthly fee of 50 yuan. Most customers of its paid-for services are high-tech researchers, accountants, entrepreneurs and managers, the paper said.

Shenzhen has a young population and their busy work life makes it difficult for them to find Mr. or Ms. Right. A survey by Mairui Consulting Co. Ltd. found about 70 percent of respondents were willing to pay for online dating services, the paper said.

The demand for dating services is also providing huge business opportunities, the Daily said. Online dating services in China generated a total revenue of 91 million yuan in 2005, the paper said, citing Mairui's data. The figure is expected to reach 653 million yuan next year, it said.

Baihe Web site had attracted 5.17 million members within a year of its establishment while Shijijiayuan had 1.8 million members three years after it was founded.

The sector has also drawn interest from overseas venture capitalists. Pengpeng and Jiawo Web sites, both operated by Shenzhen Haotian Investment Co. Ltd., received a US$12.5 million injection of funds from SoftBank Asia in 2005. Another dating Web site, Yiyou, received US$20 million from Meetic, a European dating Web site, in 2006, according to the paper.

Editor: Wing

By:Lin Min Source:Szdaily web edition
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