Dating sites are often tainted with scammers and fake profiles, but blockchain could fix that
They come with names like Datecoin, Amor, Soulgem. What’s not to love about them – especially if you’re looking for the love of your life?
Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurological sciences at Stanford University, has spent decades studying wild baboons in Kenya. Until he was eight years old, he wanted to be a gorilla when he grew up. Gorillas mate for life, they have faithful relationships, and genuinely love each other and their young (as much as gorilla love goes).
Human mating, by contrast, is an incredibly confusing and distrustful game.
In few other places is that more conspicuous than in the world of online dating, where out of eight million profiles created in 2016, Sift Science found that ten percent were fake. (Male profiles are 21% more likely to be fake than female profiles, and users listing their age as 64 have the highest fraud rate). Unfortunately, too many star-crossed people think they’re courting Prince Charming when they end up with the Beast.
How online sites work
For all their problems, more than 40 million people use online dating services, and the N.Y Daily News found that more than a third of married couples in the United States meet online. Popular sites include Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid, Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish. More modern sites have transitioned from proffering “soulmates” and long-term relationships to the “hookups” found on Tinder and Bumble. On Tinder, more than 50 million people register for casual sexual encounters. All online dating sites spin their matches through algorithms. The more matching attributes that two profiles have, the higher the “match percentage” the site will assign to it. Thing is, the algorithms depend on the profiles participants submit, and one in six of online dating app and website users say they’ve seen a fake profile, according to The Which? survey of 1,000 users of online dating services.
A story that comes to mind is one I heard from the subject himself; let’s call him Sam.
When Sam was 20, he used an online site to pseudonymously date someone who seemed to fit his dreams: quirky, attractive, idiosyncratic, intelligent – she even had a cat and he loved cats. Best of all, she seemed to share many of his interests: backgammon, archery, distaste for kids. After six months, Sam and his “girlfriend” started talking about marriage. It was only after he met his date face-to-face that he discovered it was his sister.
Worse still, The Which? survey found that one in seven users of dating websites are conned into giving money to someone they were dating. In the last six months of 2014 alone, victims lost more than than $82 million, with the average person losing more than $100,000, according to the FBI.
“The online dating space is currently flooded with fraud and mistrust,” Julian Fuchs, a Hicky co-founder told Nasdaq in 2018. “The prevailing dating services are lax in terms of measures to solve these issues. In fact, at times they encourage bad behavior in order to increase traffic and cash inflow.”
In short, online dating may help you find your match, but it may harm you, too.
Blockchain dating startups
Recently, crypto startups, built on blockchain technology, promise to fork you the love of your life almost for free. They’re a step above standard dating apps in three ways:
- Ratio – They level out the dating field for you. Research from the Pew Center found that more American men used dating sites than women, leaving certain men feeling their messages are ignored. Blockchain dating startup Matchpool uses smart contract-enforced ratios between different user attributes to gain, say, a 50/50 male-female split, or a balanced age range, rather than using the everyone-for-themselves search tool of a site like OKCupid.
- Security – Online dating sites collect troves of personal data. Blockchain dating platforms use their unique, tamper-resilient technology to defend your data from common threats. To hack your data, the invader would have to present cryptographic proof that would be very hard to fake but is easy to verify by all participants. The blockchain is a P2P network, in contrast to standard dating apps controlled by one authority.
- Authenticy – Afraid to marry your sister? Blockchain dating websites use biometric verifications that confirm users are who they say they are. Decentralized platforms, like Hicky, use uniquely identifiable biological traits, like fingerprints and hand geometry, to grant applicants access to their secure environment.
- Cut out the noise – With 40 million Americans using online dating websites, and the average website carrying several million users, it’s hard to find your match. Sites like PonderApp cut through the noise by allowing its users to “play matchmaker” to pair up singles that they think would be suitable for each other. They even pay you for successful matches.
As far as I see, people can still bypass biometric verification to present fake profiles. I have come across ads hiring people to “date” in their employer’s name. Nonetheless, blockchain dating platforms are, invariably, more secure and trusting than decentralized dating platforms are.
Still, love? How much true love can you find online? Maybe, gorillas do a better job with their real-life mating…
Viola.AI not only boasts real ID verification on the blockchain using smart contracts and digital wallets, but also aims to act as an intelligent personal relationship assistant with the goal of sustaining couples from courtship to marriage.
Luxy advertises itself as the mobile app for affluent singles. Individuals must prove an annual income of $200,000 or higher to qualify for membership, or be voted in for free by community members based on attractiveness.
Hicky uses a tokenized dating economy to balance the ratio of men and women so that everyone has a more pleasurable online dating experience. In addition, Hicky provides internal rankings that balance online and real-life interactions.
PonderApp allows its users to ‘play matchmaker’ to pair up singles that they think would be suitable for each other. To incentivize users to take part, matchmakers can even earn money for creating successful matches!
Matchpool brings couples together through the art of matchmaking. The unique selling proposition (USP) of the service is to combine elements of traditional matchmaking with the transparency and enforceability of programmable smart contracts.