Tinder and Bumble Enter the Metaverse — How Crypto and NFTs Could Become Essential to Virtual Dating Apps

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Dating apps Tinder and Bumble are entering into a relationship with the metaverse ecosystem, changing the way people will interact in drastic ways and re-inventing their platforms. From the use of avatars and digital coins to first dates in virtual piano bars, the apps are reshaping the dating landscape.

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For the two public companies, these plans will also provide a new revenue stream, and experts are saying that competitors should consider entering the metaverse fray, too, at the risk of being dumped.

Tinder said it rolled out Explore, “an interface which allows users to connect with others through new experiences beyond the Swipe that used to be Tinder,” Shar Dubey, CEO of Tinder’s parent company Match Group, said on an investor call earlier this month. The company is also rolling out its own coins — Tinder Coins — which are currently being tested in several markets including a few markets in Europe.

“Coins can also be used to incentivize certain behaviors to help members make more meaningful connections on Tinder, such as verifying their profile or adding video to their bio. And, perhaps most importantly, Coins will be essential for the virtual goods and trading ecosystem planned for 2022 and beyond,” according to a letter to shareholders.

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Finally, the company is also beta testing a new concept on some college campuses in Seoul, called Singletown — a platform where your digital self in the form of real-time audio-powered avatar can serendipitously meet others in virtual spaces, like a bar. Or, you can sit down with someone in a park bench to have one-on-one or group conversation, Dubey said on the call.

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“There is, for instance, a piano bar where people’s digital selves are gathering around, but they are actually playing their pianos at home and jamming with others,” Dubey said. “You can overhear our conversations, join conversations. You can tap into the digital avatars to see more of that profile and you have basically a richer set of signals to help connect with someone. It is metaverse experiences coming to life in a way that is transformative to how people meet and get to know each other on a dating or social discovery platform and is much more akin to how people interact in the real world.”

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As for Bumble, the move came shortly after Tinder’s, although the plans are more vague. Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble founder and CEO, said in an investor call on Nov. 10 that Web 3.0 is all about community and treats everyone in the community as participants who together make the community what it is.

“Longer term, it becomes a way for our members to own their experience on Bumble. This could happen through the communities they build, the virtual goods and experiences they acquire or through new ways of owning their identity as they navigate the metaverse. The company will start exploring applications with its friendship app, Bumble BFF.

President Tariq Shaukat said on the call that the company is “taking a Web 3.0 lens.”

“We’ve got a couple of tests that we’re very excited about that we will be rolling out in the upcoming months around this, but we think that’s the first toehold there,” Shaukat said. “This is something that is going to evolve. We want to make sure we’re setting the technical and engineering foundation for whatever emerges in the metaverse and in the Web 3.0 world.”

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Alex DiNunzio, CEO and co-founder of Jambb, an NFT marketplace for comedy and comedians, told GOBankingRates that there is no doubt that the metaverse offers ever-expanding possibilities. Dating apps, which are largely used by younger demographics, have a built-in, tech-savvy audience that is open to exploring new forms of interaction, he said.

“The capabilities of AR/VR in terms of connecting people in real-time, virtually face-to-face, suit the dating app space well, particularly following a global pandemic,” DiNunzio explained. He added that one interesting aspect will be to see how NFTs play out here.

“With the increasing ease of minting NFTs, they could be utilized to show expressions of interest and affection. Consider, for example, an NFT love letter or a ‘like’ token that users on platforms like Tinder could earn from doing everything from verifying their profiles and adding videos to being responsive and not ghosting dates,” he said. “The metaverse is complementary to NFTs, and I believe both these movements will grow and evolve together. Blockchain-based social dating offers key elements missing from current dating applications, like trust, transparency, data security and fraud protection against nefarious actors, or ‘catfishes.'”

DiNunzio added that, ultimately, dating apps will need to adapt or they will quickly become irrelevant.

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“The future may very well redefine the definition of a connection beyond in-person meetings, turning more focus on virtual experiences, like two avatars coming together before ever meeting in person. Decentralized dating apps are only one piece of the metaverse puzzle, which is continuing to grow and elevate how people interact in digital spaces and places,” he said.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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