If you’re in Asia and single but want to turn that status around, there’s a mobile app which even has a date-guarantee program for you.
Paktor is a Singapore-based mobile-dating app which offers users the chance to reject (swipe left) or approve a match (swipe right) with over 5 million users across Asia.
The app operates in six Southeast Asian countries and in Taiwan, and often draws comparisons to Tinder, except that it has some Asia-specific tweaks.
“We observed that there is a more conservative culture in Asia,” said Joshua Phua, CEO and co-founder of Paktor in a CNBC interview.
Online dating is big business. A flurry of apps have mushroomed in recent years hoping to lure busy professionals hooked on to their cellphones. Shares of Match Group, the parent of Tinder, OkCupid and other online dating services rose nearly 23 percent on their debut late last year.
Even celebrities have chimed in on the popularity of these apps.
“Today, if you own a smartphone, you’re carrying a 24-7 singles bar in your pocket,” wrote American actor and comedian Aziz Ansari in anessay for Time Magazine.
According to Paktor’s Phua, his findings show that Asians prefer to first meet fellow users in groups, rather than a more intimate one-on-one date.
A feature on Paktor are the group chats based on common interests or careers, which Phua said helps to foster a more comfortable and genuine connection between “like-minded people.” The app also has several language settings including Tagalog, Korea, Thai, Japanese, Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia.
The app also has a offline date-guarantee program for premium subscribers. In the event that the member does not manage to score an actual date after three months of following the program’s guidelines, Paktor will provide the member with a further three months of subscription for free.
Even so, Paktor might not be for everyone.
Serial dating-app user, Matthew Ali (not his real name), shared that he has not gotten much luck on Paktor and prefers Tinder.
“In some ways, I find Paktor a bit kitschy and childish,” said Ali in a CNBC interview.
He points to the Paktor Leaderboards where the most popular female and male users are ranked and Paktor’s ‘gift-giving’ culture.
“You get notifications about people you’ve swiped right (liked) getting gifts, and asking if you’d like to buy her a gift as well, this turns it into a competition which is childish,” said Ali.
In response, Paktor’s spokesperson said “these [features] are all attempts to make the dating process fun and not so ‘stuffy’.”
“The leaderboard [is] actually one of the most popular feature on the application, it’s a discovery tool rather than a game,” said the spokesperson. “In fact, we often receive enquiries on how users can be featured on the leaderboard.”
Ali told CNBC that he has had more luck with ‘matches’ on Tinder which he claimed has a more diverse user base.
“Of course, there are some strange users to be found on Tinder,” said Ali, who explained that he has come across Tinder profiles where users are very open about their sexual fetishes.
Who are mobile dating apps for?
Phua founded Paktor after he was dumped from an eight-year long relationship, and decided to take matters directly into his own hands.
He said that mobile dating benefits users by helping them meet people from a larger network which “increases the chances of connecting with meeting that special someone.”
“You can also initiate conversation with more people in a shorter period of time [rather than] physically meeting all these people,” added Phua.
Mobile dating can also help those who are more nervous.
“Paktor enables mutual matches to chat with each other first…giving each party some time to get to know each other better before naturally progressing to a physical meet-up,” said Phua.
Are mobile dating apps really the future of dating? Ali told CNBC that “in these sort of times, there’s really no conventional way of meeting someone.”
Disclaimer: Paktor gave CNBC’s Aza Wee Sile a trial premium membership to test the Paktor Guarantee Program. After two days of furious swiping and specific search filters, Aza said yes to a date with Paktor user, Matthew Ali. Aza eventually told Ali her real motive behind the date, and he hesitantly agreed to give her an interview.