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Web3 and Dating: The Perfect Match?

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February 14, 2023

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With all the digital matchmaking that happens today, is there a place in Web3 for finding IRL connections? Or even, love?

In a world where pheromone dating and marriage at first sight actually exist, has meeting someone “naturally” really become that arduous? Or are we all just so fed up with dating apps and social media that something, anything, different will do? 

According to a survey by Stanford University of 5,421 heterosexual couples in the US, 39% of couples met online – making it the largest cited source of relationships.

While in the UK, the Future of Dating report suggests that by 2037, more babies will be born to online daters than to people who met offline. 

And yet, spend any time in a group discussing online dating and you’ll quickly hear about people’s gripes with today’s popular apps. Bots trying to scam you, catfish, no matches, and the list goes on. Doesn’t sound like an environment conducive to falling in love, does it?

Tinder, the app where you swipe right if you’re attracted to someone and left if you’re not, utilizes a hidden ELO that gauges and ranks your attractiveness level based on a number of factors. The ELO rating system is a method of calculating the relative skills of players in zero-sum games. They were originally developed by Arpad Elo and used for chess games. 

You may be thinking: what the heck is my dating relative skill? In dating apps, the ELO score is based on a number of factors. For example, how you swipe, the ELO of others that swipe right on you, your job, and more. While you can try to gamify the system and improve your ELO, ultimately this system is designed to push you toward a subscription in order to improve your ELO. Yikes.

Because of this, dating apps can be perceived as toxic as it can hurt when you don’t see anyone swiping right on you. Whereas in reality, you just may not be using the app right (or giving them money!). But what is the alternative? 

A Web3 platform may just hold the solution…

Decentralization: The trust ticket?

Perhaps the largest issue with dating apps is the mistrust and lack of transparency between users and the parent company of the application. The dating apps need to make money in order to continue operating. But how?

In a classic “IRL” setting like a bar or restaurant, the owners benefit from having a lot of single people in their establishments getting to know each other because they’re buying each other drinks and food. Having singles nights or “get to know strangers” mixers would be beneficial as if two given people ended up sparking a connection with one another, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d stop going to the venue.

However, success (i.e. a “match”) on a dating app means that both people stop using the service. This means their overall user base would decrease and a subscription may end. This begs the question: are Web2 dating apps incentivized to have people stay single?

Web3 tech can enable companies to gather the capital needed to start a company from several different individuals rather than a seed investor. Dating apps that focus on building lasting relationships – rather than trapping individuals in the app – is a tough sell to potential investors that are used to traditional app subscription models. Web3 means a positive dating app can not only get off the ground but also that the infrastructure needed to run the app or website can be hosted on a blockchain. Combined, this allows companies to be more transparent with their decision-making process and not adherent to large capital investor goals (more users, endless growth, low churn, etc.). 

The entire monetization plan of a Web3 dating app could be completely changed. For example, a person may be able to buy a non-fungible token (NFT) that acts as a ticket to enter a dating pool. It would confirm your identity and other relevant details about you. Another suggested monetization method is having dating apps partner with restaurants, museums, or other potential date destinations. When the two people that met on the app are registered to have met up at the location, a royalty (similar to website affiliate links) could be collected by the host application. 

The goal of these different strategies is to move monetization away from people perpetually staying single and dateless. People should be able to trust that the dating app they’re using is actually trying to help them!

Confirm identity: Reduce scams, bots & catfish.

Dating apps are a bit infamous for being home to numerous catfish, bots, and other scams trying to blackmail or steal from singles. After all, people are the most vulnerable when they’re not thinking with their heads.

These apps tend to have loose methods of identity confirmation: linking a social media account, phone number, or email. All these information channels can be easily falsified or spoofed by someone posing as someone else. 

Web3 data regarding identity is far more secure as the information is stored on a blockchain database, which is near impossible to hack or spoof due to the decentralized method in which it is stored. Blockchains provide channels and methods to reduce the amount of unverified, malicious users on dating apps. 

A blockchain service could implement KYC Security, which would attach a driver's license or another form of real-world identity verification to a digital token, like an NFT, that permits one to enter a Web3 dating space. A dating app with this system in place would reduce the chances of catfishing, where someone on the other end of the app isn’t who they claim to be. If someone’s identity doesn’t match with who they’re saying they are, they wouldn’t be issued a token.

Because NFT transactions occurring on the blockchain are accessible to the original minter of the token, any purchases or changes in hands wouldn’t happen without the dating app being aware. With the Web3 dating service being able to restrict and control transactions to ensure the identities of its users as real people, bots would be far less common. 

Eliminate bullies & malicious users

Generally, people on dating apps are looking for real connections, friends, and fun. However, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually come across someone who, for one reason or another, is just plain mean or rude to you. The issue that arises with this, and most cyberbullying, is that there are few consequences for the perpetrator. Sure, if you get reported enough your account will get banned. But just register a new email with the dating app and sign up again. 

Web3 dating services could not only tie the virtual identities of individuals to NFTs to gain entry to a service but also limit the ability for that same virtual identity to purchase additional NFTs to enter the service once they’ve been banned. 

If that’s not enough, it’s also been suggested that users of Web3 dating services could create a smart contract with a portion of cryptocurrency as collateral. If an individual eventually decides the dating service isn’t for them, or finds someone they’d like to pursue a relationship with, great! The contract wouldn’t be fulfilled and they’d keep their currency. However, if this individual is continually reported and a human reviewer finds that they’re being offensive in communications with matches, the contract would fulfil and the individual would lose the currency they’ve staked. 

Web3 dating services can also take additional steps to create safe dating spaces by having the information about the first few dates recorded on the blockchain. If two individuals with registered KYC security decide to meet up, for example, they could notify the service, which would record the “transaction.” In the future, it may be possible for close friends or relatives to be notified if the individual didn’t check in with the service during or after the date. These relatives would then have quick access to who they met up with and where, in case they believe something went wrong. 

The best part is that the Web3 dating service’s use of the blockchain ensures that no one can hack or access the information stored about its users. 

What Web3 dating apps exist?

All of this probably sounds great, but does it exist? 

Dating dApp is a Web3 service that plans to match individuals based on personal data. Upon purchasing one of their NFTs, its algorithms will look at your interests, humor, and more and find other people who score similarly to you. While not available yet, you can sign up to be one of the first to access their exclusive NFT collection. 

Gather is another Web3 dating app that uses a unique identity verification service to reduce the number of bots and fraudulent users. Their application also allows users to stake tokens and earn passive awards for using the app. Once you find someone, the app will help you find interesting date spots near you to meet up at. 

Decentralized apps, or dApps, are applications or programs that exist on the blockchain and focus on strong, trustworthy peer-to-peer (P2P) connections. If a dating-only app isn’t of interest to you, you’ll be happy to know that Web3 social media apps are rising in popularity. 

Sites like Paragraph allow you to write and host content in a decentralized space that doesn’t restrict, censor, or alter your newsletters. DApps running on NFT domains don’t require central servers or intermediaries in order to function and allow people to enter social platforms that feel more like forums. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll even meet someone special more organically while in such a space. 

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