SINGAPORE – Mr. Lim Cheng Mong was puzzled when the bank called him to tell him that he had missed a payment of more than $ 20,000 in overdue credit card debt related to 89 mysterious transactions under his name.
âAt first I thought I had been scammed, but the credit card company said these were legitimate transactions and there was nothing they could do,â Mr. Lim said. , 56, who works as a product manager in a German company.
The billing trail led to her 18-year-old daughter’s Grab account, which was linked to her credit card and intended to cover her transportation costs.
But unbeknownst to her, the teenager had linked her e-wallet to a mobile game called Genshin Impact and spent six weeks spending August through October on in-game purchases to upgrade her avatar.
“I told her it was a lot of money – a year of tuition if she was to go to a university abroad,” Mr. Lim told the Straits Times.
âShe just spent the huge amount without blinking,â he said.
Such stories of parents spending large sums of money to pay bills due to their children’s online spending have become more common as more young people are exposed to such transactions with increasing digitization. .
Companies that process digital payments are now warning parents to set notifications on their e-wallets to keep tabs on and be alerted to their children’s spending.
The success of Chinese fantasy role-playing game Genshin Impact, which has grossed more than US $ 2 billion (S $ 2.7 billion) since its launch in September 2020, has been marred by criticism of its purchasing system in the market. Game.
The award-winning open-world game is free to play, but progress is slow unless players purchase upgrades for real money. Players can take their chances and buy random items to upgrade their characters.
Mr Lim’s daughter, a student at an International Baccalaureate school, is said to spend up to $ 300 to buy these items at random. With every purchase, she hoped to get items that would strengthen her avatar – a mechanic her father compared to the game. For this reason, Genshin Impact has been banned in countries like Belgium, which consider the game’s “gacha” mechanics to be. a form of play.