A few years ago in India, when every other youngster didn't have a smartphone, online romancing was largely limited to sending friend requests to people with cute DPs, or perhaps lurking in chatrooms, hoping that the soulmate you were chatting with wasn’t an arthritic grandparent. Then, of course, there were all the matrimonial websites, but let’s face it, these are the online equivalent of chai and samosa with ladka- and ladki-waale.
Dating apps have changed much of that, removing some of the surreptitiousness and leaps of faith that tended to come with virtual searches for love. People are changing too – they no longer need their parents to trawl through ‘suitable’ profiles and they are a lot more open to casual meetings and online interactions with potential dates and mates. Finally, it looks like young Indians are ready to search for their own partners and to make up their own minds.
In this season of love, we took a look at the most popular apps and how young people are using them.
This is clearly the most popular app out there. It has a huge user base, a great number of matches and is fast gaining a reputation as the best hook-up app out there. But it’s not champagne and novelty underwear for everyone. A male user we spoke to said, "I installed it just for fun. I wasn't looking for anything serious. I went on a couple of dates too but they were pretty boring".
There are more serious concerns than boredom, too. Many female users say that the men they connect with get abusive when they’re denied a date. Some users even go on and send them messages on Facebook. This can be the reason why almost 66% users on the app are male. The other pain point is rejection, with several users reporting they were stood up on Tinder dates.
The trend of fewer female users isn’t limited to Tinder. Only 30% of the 2.2 million users on leading Indian app TrulyMadly are women.
The app’s big claim is that they believe in 100% verification and they assign a trust score to the user. That score is based on the integration of Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, mobile number, photo ID and salary slip verification.
This is all very well in theory, but many users aren’t so comfortable with sharing such details despite TrulyMadly’s claims that this information is kept extremely confidential.
According to TrulyMadly, the app has made almost 4.5 million matches so far. The majority of viewers tend to check in between 8-10pm, spending an average of 56 minutes on the app. They might spend a bit longer, but women have reported that men need to upgrade their conversational skills.
This Indian app prides itself in not being “Tinder-like”, but like its international rival, it requires users to sign up with Facebook.
Woo offers a lot of features for security and anonymity before the actual conversation starts. After a user makes the profile here, they can search for a match based on common interests such as travelling, music, cooking and so on. They can even include a small voice note.
We talked to Woo's CEO Sumesh Menon and he said, "Woo is more about meaningful relationships than a casual date or a hook-up. We have included LinkedIn integration so people can search for partners of a particular profession. Also, for safety and privacy, we only display the initials of the person till they are matched".
"We have around 2 million users across India with the numbers growing every day. At Woo, we always want more mature relationships to take place through the platform.”
Some interesting trends which the app has seen are that more women prefer entrepreneurs as a match. They also tend to ask men a lot of questions about their hobbies and interests.
Floh offers a service which doesn't follow the traditional app model. You need to get an invite (no, they are not OnePlus of the dating world!) and after that, they screen your profile. Based on the profile you are verified. It is a paid service which uses technology and personal interactions to connect people.
Once your profile is created you can use the app (available only to members) and explore new connections. The profiles you are interested in can be bookmarked and you can ask the Floh team to for a one-on-one interaction. The app uses an algorithm consisting of 42 factors to match people.
The CEO of Floh Siddharth Mangharam claims that unlike other services they have 55% females on their network. And the network has around 3000 active members in various cities. He said, "On an average we see a wedding through our network every week. Most of our customers are in their 20s or 30s but we are seeing a change where people even in 40s are registering on Floh.”
To have a chance at love here, you need to shell out ₹7000 for three months. What you get back is the assurance that you’ll meet 50 singles in their events and will be introduced to 10 potential matches one on one. Analysis done by the app shows that people in the 26-35 age group tend to look for more stable relationships. Note that those who are unambitious or have poor communication skills are seen as the most undesirable.
While it’s clear that more and more people of different age groups are looking for love online, how much of it they’re really finding remains an open question. In addition, safety concerns and frustrating experiences mean that dating apps do need to up their game.