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How tempting are blockchain and cryptocurrency for the online dating industry?

Chayanika Deka

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Source: Pixabay

Long before apps, ads were a way to communicate interest in human contact as newspapers played the role of a matchmaker. This was the early 1700s. Fast forward to the 1990s, the explosion of the Internet brought a whole new concept for the never-ending quest for love and romance. Dating has never been so difficult. But technology, social media, and dating apps have made it more accessible if not anything else.

The online dating industry is growing significantly. In an interesting infographic shared by Carvaka, it was found that an average user spends approximately 21 minutes on Instagram and 77 minutes on Tinder, a popular dating platform. Online dating has increased by approximately 36% in two years between 2013 and 2015 across all age groups.

Most of them were found to favor mobile dating apps more than online dating sites. The sense of privacy and the sense of security most of us tend to find on a mobile phone is probably way more than we may ever be comfortable with our desktop or even laptop. It’s small and handy and is very private.

The Discreet Connection

Dating has always been a discreet affair. Speaking of which, the world of online dating has also been charmed by none other than cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, though in infancy, have generated various use-cases, and the fusion of the online dating realm and that of cryptocurrency is one such example.

Cryptocurrency and Dating – a match made in heaven?

As both dating and the cryptocurrency is becoming increasingly popular, it is only possible for these two to leverage each other to reach a wider audience. The fusion of the two opens a new avenue to those who might not want to exhibit their credentials online by using a credit card and can opt the pseudonymous way by using the cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

Modern Society’s dating ecosystem

According to Coin Dance’s chart on Bitcoin’s community interest based on Google Analytics, the community interest for dating services stood at 2.14%.

Source: CoinDance

Wider audience

Dating websites have tried to keep pace with the evolving technology. What this mode of payment does is, it opens up a wider set of audience that would have otherwise opted for the legacy payment options involving fiat.

Let’s look at the case of AshleyMadison.com.

This Canadian website gained popularity for not only conducting clandestine escapades for married individuals, but also for the massive hack. Turns out, threats made by the hackers to some 32 million victims were not empty. The extortionist wanted ransom in Bitcoins while the platform itself does not have cryptocurrencies listed as a method of payment!

Ashley Madison made headlines when the hackers reportedly dumped a 9.7GB file containing details of 32 million accounts on the dark web which contained names, passwords, addresses and phone numbers; seven years’ worth of credit card and other payment transaction details; and even descriptions of what members were seeking on the affair site, according to Vade Secure.

The Privacy Factor

Cryptocurrency payment mode has a crucial edge over traditional payment options, and as Liam Hunt, the Financial Writer at Sophisticated Investor, told AMBCrypto, “cryptocurrencies don’t merely provide another form of payment on dating apps.”

“Blockchain technologies safeguard users’ personal information and shield them from cybersecurity threats. Many data app users would rather have their identity kept private and their account confidential. Cryptocurrencies provide an anonymous form of payment for users looking for a more confidential online dating experience.

Hunt further went on to say that, dating apps can “reward users for good behavior (e.g., user engagement, swiping, and commenting)” by issuing tokens which “can also be used to make in-app purchases or unlock upgrades”.

One such platform is – Hicky, this blockchain-based dating platform, Hicky.io’s own token is typically used in chats, arrange dates for the lovebirds; most importantly these tokens are used to incentivize good behavior.

As for data security, this platform uses blockchain tech to ensure data flow and end-to-end encryption. To top that, the user verification process and storage of user data is also done using the secure decentralized tech.

One reason why cryptocurrencies are being widely used is that they can be paid for upgrades such as getting swipes, bonus matches and premium packages says Caleb Chen, who is the Digital Currency and Privacy Advocate at Private Internet Access. In a conversation with AMBCrypto, Chen also highlighted,

“Generally, subscription sites that accept cryptocurrency accept payment for all of their subscription types or features.”

Traditional is an expensive affair

False positives or false declines are essentially incorrectly rejected valid transactions when a user of a dating website opts to pay for a service on the platform but the transaction is declined by the bank if it considers the site as a “high-risk” in order to protect the user. According to the Business Insider 2016 estimates, fraud prevention strategies such as these are becoming increasingly costlier.

With the rising number of extortion cases and cyber frauds, it only makes sense for institutions to be better safe than sorry even if that means having expensive trade-offs. With a centralized third-party entity controlling the money flow, there is always a risk.

To top that, there is also the processing fees which involves the use of credit cards and that’s huge too. With high fees being attached to a user’s monthly bill, the use of fiat has its own disadvantages. Enter cryptocurrencies. Being a decentralized system eliminates the factor of a high processing fee where a user can proceed with their rendezvous at a much lesser fee.

What’s in for the dating website in all this?

Implementation of cryptocurrencies presents far-reaching benefits not only for the users but also to these online matchmaking platforms. Here’s how: Cryptocurrency payments, once executed, are not reversible. Hence, the concept of chargebacks scams is highly unlikely.

Even Caleb Chen is of the opinion that it provides huge incentives for the website, as these platforms also benefit if their users have more privacy. It not only helps their reputation but also facilitates in reaching more users who otherwise might not use their site if their privacy isn’t being preserved.

In terms of security, Chen went on to say that,

“It also benefits websites from a security perspective to be able to receive push payments (user sends cryptocurrency to an address provided by the website) as opposed to pulling payments on a credit card and having to store sensitive information that then becomes a target for hacking.”

The cases of far-right fascist seeking love

The only constant thing that is universally true is not ‘love’, but ‘change’, and with it comes constant innovation and adaption. However, not all kinds of change is good.

Let’s take a look at the twisted visions that some far-right individuals have come up with leveraging the technology that has taken over our lives. This is a case of “whites-only” dating site explicitly seeking white mates who share similar neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs.

According to reports from Memri.org, this website has over 3,000 members out of which over 2,000 are active and are residents from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Furthermore, the website requested donations in the popular privacy coin – Monero.

Conclusion

There is a reason why blockchain is called the new wave of future which gives the whole idea of anonymity and privacy a new meaning in which users do not have to worry about the data leaks or third-party involvement.

However, while cryptocurrencies are pseudonymous, stemming out of its creation are the privacy coins such as Monero, which provides near-total anonymity. As online purveyors of love flourishes, so will businesses using blockchain and other path-breaking technologies.

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Chayanika is a full-time cryptocurrency journalist at AMBCrypto. A graduate in Political Science and Journalism, her writing is centered around regulation and policy-making regarding the cryptocurrency sector.

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