Alibaba said that by midday yesterday, the gross value of sales processed by Alipay (支付寶), its online payment system, had surpassed the US$17.8 billion logged over the full 24 hours a year ago.
"Nearly $11.9 billion worth of total Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) (sales in dollar value of goods sold over a certain period) was generated within the first two hours of the shopping festival", Alibaba Group Holdings Limited said in a statement.
Alibaba reported that sales from Singles' Day amounted to $25.3 billion, a 40 percent jump from last year's figures.
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, said its Singles' Day sales extravaganza hit 168.3 billion yuan (S$34.6 billion), smashing its own record from past year and cementing it as the world's biggest shopping event.
The event has been adopted by Alibaba rivals such as JD.com, with merchants engaging in a cut-throat battle to slash prices and move goods. Singles' Day, then, appears to be celebrating a marriage after all-one of cyberspace and reality. Alibaba created the 11.11 event as "Singles Day" back in 2009.
Five minutes after midnight, Alipay was processing 256,000 payment transactions per second, doubling last year's high-water mark, Alibaba said.
More than half of China's 1.3 billion people use smartphones, which have become central to daily life, used for messaging, shopping, news and entertainment, ordering taxis and meals, and serving as digital wallets for a range of point-of-sale purchases.
But environmentalists complain of ecological harm, accusing Alibaba and other e-commerce companies of fuelling a culture of excessive over-consumption and mountains of waste.
In China, Alibaba's main rival, online retailer JD.com, said sales had topped $16.7 billion - though the tallies are not comparable because JD tracks transactions starting from November 1 through to the actual day. Last year, there were 98,000.
Alibaba said hundreds of millions of Southeast Asian consumers will be able to access Taobao this "Singles Day". "I have often emptied my "shopping cart" on Singles Day", Zheng said.