By Siddhi Jain
March 23, 2020 (IANSlife) As India stays home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, online dating is on the rise. Bumble, a popular dating and social networking application, says that the e-dating space in India will see a gendered shift, with more women taking the lead, and an increased desire for meaningful, lasting connections.
Excerpts from an IANSlife interview with Bumble’s Vice President of Strategy, Priti Joshi.
What is India’s dating scene like? What makes it unique, as compared to other countries?
Joshi: During our strategic planning, we observed that the dating app industry in India is highly fragmented. On one side, there are many global apps focused on
dating, and on the other, there are local, homegrown players focused on dating or matrimony. Bumble saw an opportunity to play in the middle — to bring to India a
social network where women are empowered to make the first move when forming connections in love, life and work. One of the other things we consistently heard was
the desire for women to feel secure and comfortable when making connections online.
Since Bumble’s launch in India, we’ve seen that more people globally are meeting their romantic partners online owing to widespread access to technology, education
and financial independence. We’re noticing similar adoption in India as well wherein 41 million Indian singles, that’s nearly 50 percent of the 2011 census single
population, will be on dating apps and actively looking for relationships by 2022.
Specifically for women, online dating can get a little tricky, and Bumble has been doing much to tackle this. What do you think is women users’ ask of an online dating platform?
Joshi: We can’t speak for other social platforms, but at Bumble we have prioritised creating a space for equal and meaningful interactions. We care deeply about bringing people together with a mission to end misogyny and create an inclusive world where all relationships are equal.
From giving users the option to block and report to further choosing their sexual orientation, we have always implemented ways to make the platform more inclusive and safe. In our consumer focus groups, one of the things we consistently heard was the desire for women to feel secure and comfortable when making connections online.
Therefore, it was important for us to prioritise safety features in India to create our differentiated value proposition. We are also always innovating - trying to
introduce more and more features (some based on user feedback!) to help all our users feel comfortable and secure on our platform.
For our launch in India, we developed a feature specific to India where only the first initial of a woman’s name would show on her Bumble Date profile. When she is ready to share her full name with connections, she can - but until then, her identity is protected. This helps to ensure that she can’t be found on other platforms by those she doesn’t want to connect with.
In addition to India-specific safety features, we have many global features that are live in India. For example, we make it easy to ‘Block and Report’ anyone you don’t want to see on the app and we have ‘Photo Verification’ and ‘Request Photo Verification’ to help ensure that the person you’re connecting with is who they say they are. We have thousands of moderators around the globe who work 24/7 to ensure our platform is safe. We also have ‘Video Chat and Voice Calls’ within the Bumble app so that our users can experience a real-life connection without exchanging any personal information. We also have the ‘Private Detector’ feature which automatically blurs lewd images and alerts the user that they have been sent something they may deem as inappropriate.
What have been your key observations over the years since you launched?
Joshi: It has been a great year for Bumble in India since our launch in December 2018. Over this last year, Bumble India’s user base has quadrupled to surpass 2 million users and one of our fastest growing user segments is Gen Z. We’ve also seen that women in India are empowered and excited to take control -- they have made the first move over six million times on our platform and are sending twice the number of messages compared to women in the rest of the world. Furthermore, we’ve seen that 40 percent of women in India use more than one mode on Bumble. This speaks to the power of the social network - and we’e excited to continue to support men and women as they experience each of Bumble’s modes - Date, BFF and Bizz.
What are some of the trends that you think will change the online dating space of India?
Joshi: There are a few trends that have the potential to change the online dating landscape of India.
● Shift in gendered rules of dating: The need today is for a platform that enables women to create a new normal in the world of dating, to break the stereotypical
rules of dating, to stop second guessing themselves and to celebrate the importance of equality in relationships.
● The power to choose: With growth in Gen Z users, relationships are slowly turning from an obligatory social arrangement to a matter of personal choice.
● Continued focus on safety: Bridging the gap between the physical and digital world while empowering users to feel safe and secure in making connections online will
continue to be an area of focus and innovation.
● Find your community: Living in this digital age can certainly have it’s pros and cons. With loneliness affecting the Indian youth, we’re expecting to see an
emphasis on mindful online behavior. This includes breaking down any remaining stigma of meeting someone new online and forming meaningful connections with
like-minded people for a happy and healthy life.
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Siddhi Jain can be contacted at email@example.com