Nude Pics for a ‘Naked Loan’: Controversial Online Loaning in China

A recent leak has exposed a raunchy Chinese e-commerce scandal in which women get personal online loans through nude pictures and videos. According to some netizens, the ‘Naked Loan’ phenomenon is a sign of the consumerism of China’s younger generation.

The so-called ‘Naked Loan’ is a practice of online money borrowing and lending where female loaners are allowed to use their ‘body’ instead of financial records as collateral.

The recent leak in China of at least 10 gigabytes of naked pictures and videos for ‘naked loans’ on Jiedaibao (借贷宝), a Chinese online peer-to-peer lending platform, has made yet another e-commerce scandal after the recent controversies over Alipay.

“Sometimes loaners propose a ‘flesh payback’ for which borrowers will repay their loans with sexual activities.”

The “naked” in “naked loan” (luǒdài 裸贷), is a pun: on the one hand, it means that no proof of capital or material assets is required when taking the loan; on the other hand, the naked female body is taken instead as a guarantee when borrowing money.

To get a naked loan, borrowers take naked selfies in which their ID cards have to be held in front of them. Both the front and back side of the ID card should be clearly readable. The borrowers also have to make a video (in which they also have to be naked), stating their name, the loaner’s name, the amount of the loan and interest, the date of payback, and the promise that in case they are not able to pay back the loan, they will have to “face the consequences.”

In the case of a delayed payback, loaners will threaten to release the borrowers’ naked pictures on the internet, or to expose their conduct to their parents and family. Sometimes loaners also propose a “flesh payback” (肉偿), for which borrowers will repay their loan with sexual activities.

What draws the public’s attention to the “naked loan” phenomenon is the recent leak of 10 gigabytes of documents from Jiedaibao (借贷宝), a Chinese online borrowing and lending platform. The documents concern private information of users, including naked pictures and videos of 161 borrowers. The borrowers are female netizens between the age of 17-23, many of them attending university or college.

Soon after the leak of these documents, Jiedaibao announced on its official Weibo account that they would take legal action to combat ‘naked loan’ practices and that they would set up a one-million ‘anti-naked fund’ to resolve the situation.

“The ‘Naked Loan’ phenomenon reveals the problem of modern youth; that their expanding desire for material wealth is increasingly incompatible with their real life situations.”

The issue also attracted the attention of official media. State media outlets such as People’s Daily (人民网) have called for better supervision over China’s online e-commerce platforms.

On Sina Weibo, netizens are also concerned about young women’s motives to take a naked loan. Many believe that university students are influenced by “consumerism”, that triggers young people to make extra money to purchase expensive cosmetics and accessories.

As one popular Weibo user writes: “The ‘Naked Loan’ [phenomenon] reveals the problem of modern youth; that their expanding desire for material wealth is increasingly incompatible with their real life situations (..) the life of “lower people” is ugly and undesirable; a decent and well-off life has become the norm.”

Another netizen is more apathetic about China’s young “spenders”: “Excessive consumption has become quite common among university students, yet society is neither understanding nor responding to such needs. Under an unsound credit system, young people fall victim to these ‘naked loans’.”

-By Diandian Guo
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Author

About the author: Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialised in China's cultural memory.

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