Last week it was announced that Facebook is planning to enter the online dating market. That no doubt sent shivers down the spine of investors and staff of Tinder, PlentyofFish and the other major players in the online dating space. The volume of data Facebook has on its members and the amount of time they spend on the social media means it stands strong chance of dominating the industry within a short space of time.
Zuckerberg even took a thinly-veiled swipe at some of the future dating app’s rivals (Tinder) by stating that the Facebook matching engine would be based on common interests, values and friends. Its idea is to use common intention to attend Facebook listed events as a central matching criteria. It says its aim is to help create lasting relationships and not one night stands based on superficial first impressions of physical attractiveness.
Trying to focus date matches on activities and personality is not completely unique. There are online dating services that don’t even include profile pictures. Waving, for example, uses voice messages instead of pictures.
Facebook might have some new competition though. Putting the term ‘blockchain’ into a start-up is often gimmicky and ‘the blockchain version of….’ has become as prevalent as ‘the Airbnb of….’ or the ‘TripAdvisor for….’. However, a new blockchain-based dating service still in the process of being built looks genuinely interesting.
Luna, the name of the Blockchain dating platform, it is explained in the white paper outlining the concept and how it will work, will ‘remake dating culture’. The problem with other dating apps and platforms, Luna’s makers argue, is that they are attempts to find a shortcut when a significant amount of effort has always been put into finding a suitable partner.
Luna describes itself as a ‘method’ rather than a service. The idea is to use blockchain technology to anonymise user data that will then be analysed by researchers. Over time, and huge volumes of data, the team believe that algorithms can be refined that will show significantly higher rates of matching success than any other approach to dating.
Luna proposes to use a cryptocurrency system based on ‘Star’ tokens that can be purchased online via cryptocurrency exchanges. Users will also be able to ‘earn’ Stars by replying to messages more quickly and by taking other positive actions within the platform. Users will also be able to limit how many messages they receive a day and would be suitors climb they queue by paying extra Stars. Recipients of messages will be able to exchange the Stars for either cash or donate them to charity. Star discounts will be offered when the Luna algorithm believes a pair of users are particularly compatible.
Luna founder Andre Ornish comments that “dating requires a great amount of introspective ability, to know who you are, what you want and how to communicate that to someone”. He also believes that big data might just help us know ourselves better than we would be able to manage alone.