Alipay, Alibaba’s popular mobile payment service, has come up with a unique offering. It moved a step ahead of Tinder (a dating app), which allowed two strangers to meet based on their appearance. Alipay released a new service called Circles, which hosts interest or social groups that work like Instagram, with users sharing their videos or photos with group members.

Alibaba
Image source: hinglish Notes – Flickr

Alibaba app includes a “tip” function

In several popular groups on Circles, only females can put up personal media and write posts. All of the 400 million users of Alipay can join Circles groups, which include one for white collar workers, another for Chinese citizens living overseas, and a third for college students, reports Quartz.

Many other groups are currently in the testing phase. Over 100 interest or social groups covering areas from parenting to reading to the internet are being tested, Ant Financial (Alibaba’s financial spinoff and the owner of Alipay) told Quartz.

Within 24 hours of its launch, the college group Campus Diary was viewed by more than 14 million people. Even this group allows only female users to post. After joining the group, any user can “tip” or “praise” the posts. The “tip” function is similar to the “like” button on Facebook, but with cash involved. Users who want to tip are taken to a transaction page to donate money to the author of the post. The default is less than 14 cents (1 yuan), but one can pay as much as 200 yuan, notes Quartz.

What’s contributing to the popularity?

So what is drawing so many Chinese users to this new service? The most fitting answer seems to be sex. According to reports by Chinese tech media, pictures of scantily clad women showing their cleavage with text asking men for chats, booty calls, or tips flooded the groups within a few hours of the service’s release.

In a Weibo post, Wang Sicong, son of property tycoon Wang Jianlin and an internet celebrity, said the wallet application has turned into a brothel. Wang may be extreme in his comments, but he isn’t speaking nonsense, notes Quartz.

All Alipay users are registered by their actual name, so there are no fake accounts promising in-person meetings or soliciting tips. Any stranger could friend these female bloggers and send personal messages or transfer money to their Alipay accounts within seconds.

On Monday in a statement on Weibo, Alibaba said the latest service is still in the testing stage, and it promised to crack down on “harmful” use or information.