SINGAPORE — Online dating is booming across Asia, and Tinder is far from being the only option. According to a survey,in 2013 said they were looking for love online, compared with 25% in 2009. Asian dating app makers say there remain cultural nuances that influence the way people here use online dating apps. For instance, there appears to be a stronger emphasis placed on privacy and establishing in-person connections than on casual, no-strings-attached meet-ups that quick swipes to the right.
Here are how some apps plan to get a bigger share of the Asian dating pie.
is a Singaporean app which its founder Violet Lim proudly proclaims is the “anti-Tinder” app. For one, there are no chat functions on LunchClick. Instead, users send each other questions and answers from a pre-determined list, after which they are encouraged to schedule a meet-up via the “propose a date” function.
Lim says: “Instead of focusing on swiping and chatting, our objective is to help singles go offline as quickly as possible our objective is to help singles go offline as quickly as possible as we believe that ultimately, the dating experience is an offline one. This is why we decided to omit the free-chat function, and put in place a structured Q&A. Sometimes, singles may be shy to ask someone out for fear of rejection. The ‘propose a date’ function helps lessen this sense of awkwardness.”
At first glance,may seem like an Asian version of Tinder where you swipe left or right on a deck of profiles. However, the creators have implemented various features to specifically cater to the Asian demographic. For example, users can filter profiles based on education and employment background — data they say Asians especially care to know about up front.
After conducting research and analysing users’ in-app behaviour, the Paktor team also added features such as a gifting mechanism, to allow users to break the ice with other users before conversations begin.
Co-founder Charlene Koh says: “We found Asians prefer to first meet fellow users in groups versus a more intimate one-on-one session. “We found Asians prefer to first meet fellow users in groups versus a more intimate one-on-one session. This led to the introduction of group chats through interest cards.”
Interest cards are a function in the app which encourage chat communities to form based around a common topic.
The idea forstarted in 2011 when founder Wendy Tse was still working in the finance sector. Tse was single then but unwilling to go online to look for love as she had seen how her friends had taken screenshots of people’s online dating profiles and were circulating them as a joke. She was also worried of what her clients or co-workers might think if they saw her on dating apps as well.
Over the next three years, Tse interviewed 500 singles and developed Blindfold, which allows users to control who gets to see their profile. Each profile is partially masked or blurred out, granting users a level of confidentiality.
Tse trained for a matchmaker certification in the U.S., she says, where she found that many Western-based apps were “ill-suited” for the Asian demographic.
“Hot-or-not swiping apps promote split-second judgmentsand provide way too many options with zero curation,” she says.
Blindfold also tries to make a real-life connection happen by limiting chats to 14 days. “Free dating apps are typically full of people who chat aimlessly for months, with no real intention to meet up so we’ve gotten rid of those time wasters,” says Tse.
Founder of, Krystal Choo, is adamant that her company makes more than a mere dating app. Rather, she’s marketing it as a travel app for singles.
Choo says: “Although increasingly independent, Asian travel patterns lean toward travelling in groups. Wander takes away the uncertainty of travelling alone by allowing users to connect with locals and other travellers in a particular city.”
Wander will be launching a refreshed version in October 2015, with a focus on micro-communities. Members will be able to connect by destination, both for locals and travellers to the place.
You’ll be able to actively participate in these group conversations or easily take it to a private chat if someone particularly piques your interest.
Choo says she hopes the app can help “traditional Asian travellers” explore the world beyond their immediate comfort zones while helping them to stay safe.
Attributed to Vanessa Tai
is a portfolio company of Convergence Ventures