The dating scene is no stranger to transition and disruption. In many ways, it seems like a miracle that we can forge connections in the first place. An intimate relationship between two people is one of the least understood and most difficult to manufacture. For decades, couples met at the office, in their church, or through mutual friends. It was situational more than it was strategic, but somehow, awkward introductions and nervous first dates brought millions of couples together.
Of course, it's not surprising that, once we discovered a better method for meeting people, many began pursuing that instead. Initially, that "better method" was online dating.
The first online dating site, Match.com, launched in 1995, and the dating scene changed forever. Although many people initially viewed online dating with skepticism, it wasn't long before people were flocking to these platforms that claimed to use their proprietary algorithms to locate suitable partners who shared similar interests, location, and other commonalities.
Today, Match.com is joined by a cadre of other dating websites that cater to the unique proclivities of a diverse dating population. They range from the conservative (Christian Mingle) to the audacious (Tinder), and they incorporate everything in-between. In total, nearly 20% of internet users participate in an online platform, and that number increases for younger generations.
Now, in 2018, we are more technologically connected than ever before. The relationships that were once unique to Match.com and other dating sites are accessible on nearly every social platform. In our hyper-connected lives, online dating platforms don't necessarily have an edge when it comes to creating meaningful connections. What's more, platforms that are intended to facilitate a dating relationship are disproportionality overcrowded.
On the more conventional dating platforms, men can outnumber women by more than a three to one ratio. All the noise results in only 2% of messages being returned, and the frustration is leading some users to behave inappropriately. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 42% of female users report feeling harassed.
This is a critical moment for connective technology. With so many people flocking to these platforms, it's essential that they deliver on their claims of connecting people with dating relationships and not just bringing them together on a social platform.
Can the blockchain make a difference here?
Since cryptocurrencies and the blockchain exploded in popularity last year, people are looking to the blockchain as a transformative technology that can improve upon current platforms. This is undoubtedly true for online dating.
While various blockchain's offer different features that could impact the online dating scene, Ethereum's network is particularly adept at addressing some of the most prominent needs in the online dating industry.
Ponder, a decentralized application built on the Ethereum network, is working to ensure that users don't just spend time on their app but that they actually find the relationships that they covet.
As a blockchain startup, Ponder believes in the possibility of powerful technology, but they also understand the importance of human connections. That's why their platform provides a financial incentive for its users to play match-maker. For example, if a Ponder user makes a successful introduction between two people on the platform, the match-maker is rewarded with $10. If that couple gets married and reports it on the platform, the match-maker is further forwarded with an additional $1,000.
The ultimate goal of a digital dating platform is to connect compatible partners and Ponder exercises all angles of the process to ensure that its users have the best chance of achieving that.
Although Ponder's ICO is just getting started, they are already running a beta program that includes 70 thousand participants. 40% of these participants are match-makers, which provides initial users with thousands of possible compatible matches.
Of course, the blockchain offers other benefits as well. Since dating websites are collecting sensitive user data, there are security benefits to a decentralized arrangement. What's more, a tokenized economy allows users to reward those who add value to the experience, and new monetary models for facilitating the connection process will be devised.
A Tandem Rise
With millions of people logging onto dating websites, online dating is becoming a normative part of the general dating experience. Similarly, the blockchain is coming of age, and it's expected to make significant inroads into mainstream culture in the coming years. Already, platforms like Ponder and its 70 thousand users are making online dating a more enjoyable and more successful enterprise. As online dating and the blockchain forge a relationship, they are poised to help others do so as well.