The site was operational Monday morning, although it currently offers no discounted deals. Users can only sign up to subscribe to the site's email newsletters. The site advertises discounts that run from 50 to 70 percent off. In English, its name can be translated as "friend in a high place."
The company is hoping to tap the new e-commerce trend in China known as "group buying", which it helped popularize in the U.S. Group buying works by offering a range of discounted deals on restaurant meals to even clothing and health spa services. Customers can only obtain the deals, however, if enough users buy in. When the threshold is reached, the deal is given out to all those who participated.
China, with its 457 million Internet users, represents the for Groupon. But competition is already fierce among local rivals. The country has more than 1,700 group buying sites. Even the China-based domain name Groupon.cn is already being used by another group buying site.
Until now, Groupon was quiet about its plans for China. The company had set up an office in Beijing that has been actively recruiting employees. There was also speculation that it was facing trouble trying to launch its services in the country because GaoPeng.com went online earlier this month, but then abruptly shutdown the next day.
Several Chinese group buying sites have also said they will not re-hire any employees who have gone to work for Groupon. The competitors allege their staff through headhunting firms. Groupon has not responded to the accusations.