2020 has shown to be a challenging year in many aspects, especially when it comes to real-life social interactions. With restrictions implemented in many countries, it’s hard to meet up with people for dates and build up meaningful connections. Not when you’re online though.
Online dating: people seek deeper connections
There’s been a spike in the online dating scene since as early as mid-February of this year. For instance, at the end of March, the online dating app Tinder reached a record number of daily swipes globally, which was 3 billion. If we talk specifics, in just a month and a half, between February and March, the daily conversations in the UK saw an increase of 12%. At the same time, the Italian and Spanish Tinder users upped their game in daily messaging, with the number growing up to 25% compared to weeks before. [1,2]
It’s not only the case with Tinder: other major dating apps experienced a boost in conversions and user interactions. In the middle of March, the number of messages sent by the American users of the Bumble app surged by 21%, and the OkCupid saw a 10% growth in matches, with 94% of surveyed users claiming they are going to continue their dating life virtually. [3,4]
The global lockdown resulted in an overall online dating industry boost, as in August, it was revealed that the total revenue of a Match Group, Inc increased by 12% to $555,4 million in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the similar period last year. The parent company of Tinder, Match.com, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, and other dating services expect revenue of $600 million or more in the third quarter. 
It’s easy to come up to the conclusion that lots of people turned to the dating apps out of boredom, being confined by their homes. But there is another reason: the way that people interact changed due to the lockdown. It’s hard just to match with someone for a quick hook up under the threat of the pandemic spread.
Instead, people began spending more time talking and getting to know each other, being cautious, and not pressured into meeting up ASAP. This type of communication is more endearing and meaningful, as people’s real-life interactions were limited, and they found themselves in the same boat with their match, allowing them to vent and relate to each other more. Some dating services catch up and offer more interactive ways to communicate, like the phone- and video calls, streaming, etc. [2,6] But, there are other ways to make virtual encounters more immersive in the future: AR and VR technologies. And with some countries thinking about turning back to stricter lockdowns, who knows how soon online dating apps will need to turn to this level of immersion. [7,8]
AR in online dating: the time is now
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology, which allows overlaying text, sound, pictures, or video onto the physical world around us using smartphones, monitors, or headsets. The most common example of AR are filters of dogs and rainbows on Instagram, or pokemon projected onto the streets through the Pokemon GO app. You may not notice it, but AR has been around for some time and started becoming more mainstream around five years ago. In 2015 there were 200 million mobile AR users around the world, and three years from now, this figure is estimated to reach over 2,4 billion users. 
As you don’t need to have any special equipment to use the AR technology, the online dating app developers can have a ball creating services. For starters, filters can be added to the videocalls to make interactions more playful. AR can make your date’s profile interface more interactive by adding a layer of the necessary information to decide which way to swipe.
There’s also an opportunity to create 3D avatars of a person for fun and to show some individuality. Another way the AR can be used is to scan the real-life places you visit – like restaurants, parks, or gyms, to find out if other dating app users come here, so you can find a match with similar interest easier. These and other cases of AR use in online dating not only can up the involvement but also keep the app exciting for people who are getting tired of similar app services and design.
VR in online dating: another level of immersion
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that creates a virtual simulation, which a person can see through a special headset, and even interact using other VR tools. Used mainly for gaming, VR technology is still not as widespread as the AR. For instance, it is expected, that this year there will be 51 million American VR users.  Still, a recent study shows that the lockdown will boost the shipment of both VR and AR sets. Thus, this year’s VR technology shipment is estimated to reach 6,3 million units. In four years, the number of units forecasted to increase to 35,6 million, which is a compound annual growth rate of 77,2%. 
Another thing that can make the usage of VR more common is the global implementation of 5G technology, which will allow for higher internet speed and bandwidth and lower latency, providing a better virtual reality experience.  The process is continuing: in February of 2020, 5G has already been deployed in 378 cities around the world. 
The good thing is, you don’t have to market VR dating services to specific people who already have a virtual reality set – the company can buy them and let the customers rent, at least until VR tech becomes more mainstream and affordable.
The virtual reality technology and online dating are a match made in heaven – you get to see how a person looks, talk to them, etc. – all without meeting with them physically. Moreover, you can take them on a date to whatever place you want – to a foreign country or another planet, since the virtual space will provide you with the visuals. And don’t even get us started on VR suits and other tools which can be used for intimate encounters. All these cases sound like a perfect scenario for cautious clients, who still want to continue their dating lives, but do it in the comfort of their homes, without losing the sense of engagement. Some dating services already implement AR and VR technologies at some capacity, and we can expect further development on this front.
But there is another vital issue online dating companies should take notice of – the amount of fraud cases grows during these uncertain times.  One of the best ways to protect your company from fraudulent transactions and chargebacks is to make sure that your merchant account is sufficiently protected. We at Maxpay know the value of a secure bank account, as we work with high-risk businesses. Our payment gateway service provider offers companies the services of Covery anti-fraud platform, as well as tools and solutions from VMPI, Verifi, and Ethoca to minimize and prevent chargebacks and fraud altogether. Not to mention that with Maxpay you can manage all your funds online while growing your business and reaching your customers globally.