Millennials in China are sparking ideas that take social media and live streaming to new monetary heights, such as converting a virtual Lamborghini into a down payment on a real Audi automobile in a month with no cost.
Equipped with smartphones and selfie sticks, youngsters are cashing in on a live-streaming boom by broadcasting their everyday lives — from singing to playing eSports to putting on makeup or eating an entire pizza.
The flurry of likes, hearts and comments is similar to Facebook Live or Twitter's Periscope. But the popularity of virtual gifts that can be purchased by fans to express their appreciation for the streaming stars has fueled a boom.
With top live-streamers easily attracting more than 100,000 viewers to individual screen showrooms, money follows through purchases of items like sunflowers worth 0.10 yuan (U.S. 1.5 cents) each, or a virtual Lamborghini that costs 100 yuan ($14.50).
Such digital gifting allows many young people in China, with or without a college degree, to earn spending cash each month.
"It's an easy way to earn pocket money," said 19-year-old Ding Gaoxing, a part-time streamer with more than 10,000 followers on Panda TV, a popular Chinese streaming site. "I like to play video games, and now I can make money by doing it."
Born in Shanghai, Ding is now a second-year student at Singapore Polytechnic. By live-streaming during his leisure time, Ding makes more than the average salary of university graduates in China.
"I broadcast about 60 hours a month, earning about 10,000 yuan ($1,450) by cashing out virtual gifts that my fans sent me," Ding told CNBC Asia.
By comparison, fresh university graduates entering the job market would earn a bit more than a third of that amount, according to a 2014 report released by China's Ministry of Education.
"I can earn much more by live-streaming than working a normal day job, but I still have to look for a job after graduation," said Ding. "That's ironic."