RealMe teamed up with Spectrum Labs and personal safety app UrSafe earlier this month, to create a new tool which allows users to benefit from all three services when transitioning from an online to an offline relationship.
CheckPlus gives UrSafe users access to RealMe’s security services, which conduct in-depth background checks on matches to make sure they are portraying their true identity and don’t have any criminal history.
Here, RealMe’s Chief Business Officer Neil Davis and UrSafe’s Chief Executive Officer Anthony Oyogoa discuss the new partnership in detail and how dating apps can continue to protect their users during this changing landscape.
Neil Davis (ND) is Chief Business Officer at RealMe, a turnkey, no-cost technology solution to protect online marketplaces and their users. With more than 30 years in corporate and business development, Neil brings valuable strategic expertise and digital understanding to the RealMe executive team.
Prior to joining RealMe, Neil served as Chief Business Officer and a board member for uCast Global, where he spearheaded key revenue relationships and global partnerships for the company. Neil also held senior management positions at Winnick & Co., AOL, and other high-profile companies based in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Dallas.
Anthony Oyogoa, MD (AO) is the CEO and Co-Founder of UrSafe, a global security app offering next-generation personal safety technology to empower everyone to stay safe anytime, anywhere. Born and raised in Nigeria and then the United Kingdom, Anthony is a medical professional and business entrepreneur based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Before working on UrSafe, Anthony founded i-Rotation, an app designed to streamline the entire healthcare education workflow from A to Z using innovative technology to manage clinical rotations, transform accreditation review, and validate clinical training.
Congratulations on the partnership! Can you tell us more about yourselves and your respective companies?
ND: “Thank you. We’re honored to partner with the leader in the personal safety app industry. Currently I’m the Chief Business Officer at RealMe, a company that was built to answer the call for heightened safety and security across dating apps and online marketplaces.
“RealMe is a technology platform dedicated to keeping people safe by offering more than 325 million profiles and Reputation Scores of US adults. With RealMe, users make sure the people they want to date are real people, without criminal backgrounds, sexual offender status, or other things that might cause concern.
“In addition to being Chief Business Officer, I lead the dating partnerships at RealMe, meaning that my team and I establish relationships with the major players in the industry to make online dating a safer, more secure experience. Recently we partnered with UrSafe to launch CheckPlus, a new tool that matches online in-app and off-app toxic behavior with background and reputation information. Additionally, we incorporated offline personal safety information to create the most comprehensive understanding of risk associated with individual dating app users.”
AO: “I’m a business entrepreneur and medical professional, so co-founding the UrSafe App was a natural extension of my passions. We developed this innovative technology in response to the gaps we’re seeing in personal safety across the world to increase the standard of safety for people anywhere, anytime with just their smartphone. UrSafe connects users with potentially life saving tools that can be used during everyday activities, from taking rideshare to going on a first date, to prevent an emergency before it happens.”
What are you looking forward to most about the partnership? Can you tell us more about CheckPlus and the work you will be doing together?
ND: “I’m excited for this partnership because of how well we complement one another. What RealMe can’t do is go on a date with the person, which is where UrSafe comes in. Together, along with Spectrum Labs, we created CheckPlus, an automated solution which bridges users’ background, social media, reputation and offline protection to provide platforms with a complementary analysis and prediction of risk for an individual. We’re doing this to create safer environments increasing users’ trust and engagement with online platforms such as dating apps and other marketplaces.”
AO: “With the ever-increasing amount of interpersonal connections made online from dating apps, community apps, rideshare apps, and more, the creation of CheckPlus is paramount in reducing the risks associated with these off-line meetups, which is of the utmost importance these days. We couldn’t be in better company with RealMe and Spectrum Labs, which monitor the safety and legitimacy of online users and their conversations, then UrSafe steps in as the silent bodyguard to ensure that people are protected with the same level of security as they make plans to meet up in-person. While there are many dangers of online interactions, in-person meetings stemming from online connections have their fair share of risks that we’re dedicated to making sure are avoided.”
Safety remains a huge concern for the dating industry. How does CheckPlus work and how does it help online daters improve their personal safety both online and offline?
ND: “It is simple yet truly comprehensive and unique as there are no other partnerships in the space that offer a holistic understanding and prediction of risk for individual dating app users. With CheckPlus, dating apps can monitor behavior in-app to protect their community and provide a greater understanding of their members, including the positive, and potentially harmful behavior, both current and historical.
“For the online reputation of a dating app user, RealMe passes back user authentication including a reputation score, criminal flags, sexual offender status and more to our dating app partner to help assess risk and verify the user. While matches are in communication with one another, Spectrum Labs provides a contextual AI platform that looks beyond key words to identify toxic behaviors in real-time. Together, the technologies create a RealMe-verified ID for the user. To complete our holistic user risk management tool, we look to UrSafe to provide offline security.”
AO: “After users check their online connection’s identity through CheckPlus and move forward with planning an in-person date, individuals can utilize UrSafe’s personal safety app features to stay connected with friends, family and the nearest authorities to ensure that any dangerous situation is avoided before it even happens. Users will have access to UrSafe’s leading safety features, including voice-activated SOS, real-time location-sharing with friends and family, and geo-located 911 response that functions in over 200 countries and territories. For example, if a date is going well, these features allow users to let their contacts know that they are feeling safe and secure. Alternatively, if they are feeling uncomfortable in their current situation, UrSafe allows users to discreetly notify contacts for varying levels of assistance.”
Virtual dating has emerged strongly during the pandemic. What personal safety challenges does this present for users and how can CheckPlus improve this?
ND: “We recently conducted a study which included questions about dating during the pandemic.
“We saw trends of loneliness, anxiety of being single, and a greater drive to connect with others. In this, nearly 2 in 3 current dating app users are now less picky when liking/swiping. They increased their use of video chat features and are having longer and more meaningful conversations. However, almost 75% of online daters admit to misrepresenting themselves, whether it’s making themselves look younger or using photos of other people, which lends opportunity to potential scams. CheckPlus can help mitigate these risks through RealMe’s Reputation Score that pulls in background information, criminal records, even education and voting history to help verify the user and assess their trustworthiness or reputation.”
AO: “To Neil’s point, the pandemic has established video chat dates and virtual date nights as the new norm to screen online connections before risking meeting up in person. However, when daters want to take their relationship offline and in person, we also feel that users will want increased safety options as they meet these strangers since there are increased health concerns, less people out-and-about, and a rise in general personal safety concerns.”
How can dating platforms take advantage of the collaboration to mitigate risk and build trust with safer dating environments?
ND: “Our study found that 98% of online daters find a reputation checker that pulls together all information sources very appealing. Over 80% of them would be more likely to trust a dating app if it offered user verification and background checks and they would spend more time on said apps/sites if they did.”
AO: “CheckPlus’ benefits for dating platforms are countless. As these dating apps are hoping to create fun, healthy, and safe romantic connections for their users, adding CheckPlus’ multi-faceted protective features can relieve some of the nerves and risks users may experience so that they can feel more comfortable and free to be themselves with others.”
What excites you most about the future of online dating?
ND: “Online dating is in a fascinating position right now. Due to the pandemic, many online daters are continuing to social-distance and are therefore turning to dating apps for human connection to mitigate feelings of loneliness. In terms of actual dating, online daters also don’t necessarily feel comfortable going on dates in real life yet, so the major players in the online dating industry have pivoted to offering in-app video chat capabilities or encouraging users to have virtual meet-ups.
“Is virtual dating here to stay? I believe so, especially for the foreseeable future until the globe gets past the global pandemic. Ultimately, people aren’t as willing to risk getting sick for a first date. A virtual first-time meet-up, and other virtual dates thereafter, offer a chance for dating app users to get to know each other and establishing a certain level of trust before meeting in the real world.
“Prior to the pandemic, there was a growing need for enhanced in-app safety and security features. The 54% surge in dating app usage that has been reported since the pandemic’s onset supports why the future of online dating will also see a surge in new safety features like CheckPlus, that not only protect online daters in-app, but also when they meet their matches in person.”
AO: “For me, it will be exciting to see how people’s relationships, confidence and experiences change when they’re able to taken down some of those walls they’ve built up to protect themselves from potential bad dates, catfishing, uncomfortable situations, and more, knowing that there are now safety measures in place to ensure they’re meeting someone who’s verified and that they’re closely protected. Justin Davis from Spectrum always says that “Safety by Design” will be the new normal for app development, and we hope that is part of the developers’ culture moving forward.”
Can you each briefly summarise your company’s goals for the next year?
ND: “RealMe’s mission is to help people interact more safely across the internet. Our north star will always be helping people protect themselves and their families in an ever-changing digital world.”
AO: “Be the industry standard for all personal safety needs in many verticals.”