Interview: Sugarbook CEO On Sugar Dating Controversies

Sugar dating platforms are receiving huge amounts of media attention in 2018, from African examples getting featured on the BBC to sites like DaddyBear breaking through in the LGBTQ niche.

There are interesting social and legal conversations surrounding the model, which usually purports to connect wealthy providers with those wanting an expensive lifestyle.

Just this week, for example, RichMeetBeautiful has gone to court in Belgium to defend its controversial mobile billboards.

Sugarbook, a Malaysia-based sugar dating platform, recently hosted a party at the Singapore Grand PrixThe Singaporean government initially endorsed the event, but pulled out once it became clear that the party was run by a sugar dating company.

GDI caught up with Darren Chan, the CEO and Founder of Sugarbook, to find out more.

Read the full interview below:

For anyone who isn’t familiar with your brand or sugar dating as a concept, how do you describe the service that you provide?

DC: “Sugarbook is a niche dating platform and community where like minded consenting adults chat, meet and negotiate mutually beneficial relationships of all kinds. Just like how our tagline ‘Where Romance Meets Finance’ presents itself, Sugarbook helps build relationships based on financials.”

Sugar dating platforms are often criticised for facilitating (potentially illegal) transactions between wealthy members and recipients. What specific steps does your platform take to make sure none of this is happening?

DC: “I think as we continue to learn and understand about the public’s perception of sugar dating, we’re in a more comfortable position to navigate through and address these misconceptions. One of the main factors that has contributed to this belief is that of the contents our media today has crafted, and we’re more than happy to share our thoughts.

I think the public should be made aware that unless payment for companionship falls under prohibited acts that includes prostitution or sexual solicitation, payment for companionship is perfectly legal. Sugar dating is a chosen lifestyle, not a profession – All 200,000 members in Sugarbook are not employed by us in any way. These are real people in search for love, companionship and the finer things in life.”

The Singaporean government withdrew its support for the Sugarbook F1 party after discovering the nature of the service. Do you have many problems carrying out brand campaigns in public? How do you advertise?

DC: “I just like to add that Sugarbook is merely a dating platform and we abide by the laws of the Malaysian and Singaporean government or any country for that matter. As we’re based in a conservative country with strict laws and regulations, there are a number of things that are prohibited from advertising such as tobacco, condoms, medications that improves sexual virility, treating sexual weaknesses or any ads that are associated with sexual ailment, illness, or disease is strictly prohibited – let alone sugar dating. That said, our main source of user acquisition are online ads and word of mouth as over 35% of our members are students from universities.”

How do you ensure the safety of some of the more vulnerable members on your site?

DC: “As with most dating platforms, there are bound to be people who take advantage or abuse the services that we strive to provide. To help ensure that Sugarbook is a safe community, we have a safety feature known as ‘Verified Profiles’. Our members have the option to verify their identities and validate good intentions. Members are required to submit their identification documents such as ID, passport and utility bills. Once verified, we provide a blue tick that appears next to a Sugarbook profile. This means that the account is the authentic presence of the person it represents.”

What is the plan for Sugarbook over the next 12 months?

DC: “As of this moment, hiring the right talent is crucial and we are working very closely with an investor from Hong Kong to strategise future growth. His background is from Mindworks Ventures, one of Hong Kong’s biggest venture capital firms and our board of advisors are former Executive Director of Goldman Sachs and Director of Nomura Investment Bank. In regards to investment, Sugarbook is actively looking for funding to expand across Asia to cities such as Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo and China. We welcome the chance to discuss with any investors should they be interested.”

Visit the Sugarbook website here.

Scott Harvey

Scott is the Editor of Global Dating Insights. Raised in Dorset, he holds a BA from The University of Nottingham and an MSc from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Previously he has written about politics, economics and technology for various online publications.

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