Match Group, which owns dating platforms such as Tinder, Match.com and OkCupid, plans to enter the metaverse. The Group said in its Q3 2021 financial report that is working with Hyperconnect, social discovery and video technology company which the Group acquired in June this year, to create a live virtual world.
Titled Single Town, the metaverse will see singles, represented by their avatars, move around and engage with others by audio in various virtual locations. Users who express mutual interest in each other will then be able to connect privately as well. According to Match Group, Single Town is still in its early stages and is currently being tested in South Korea, but could provide "a very different dating app experience" for its users when it becomes a standalone app. "This new experience provides a glimpse into how metaverse experiences could be applicable to dating and it is the sort of innovation that will help us evolve our portfolio as we enter the next phase of dating," the Group said.
The Group also added that Hyperconnect is working on several innovations in its internal incubation lab, many of which are looking to "create disruptive new ways to meet and connect digitally".
According to Match Group's financial report for Q3 2021, its revenue for the quarter increased by 25% compared to the same quarter in 2020. It also saw a 16% increase in paid subscribers, reaching 16.3 million paid users across its portfolio. The report also projects a 24% to 26% increase in year-over-year growth for the last quarter this year. At the same time, the report said that its revenue has been dampened due to "lingering COVID-19 effects across Asia", especially in Japan - Match Group's second-largest market by revenue.
In its financial report, Match Group also revealed its monetisation plans for Tinder, the latest of which is its plans to launch virtual goods on Tinder. Tinder will launch its own virtual currency, Tinder Coins, which can be used to purchase the platform's à la carte offerings, including Boost and SuperLike. Tinder may also unbundle its subscription packages and adopt a pay-as-you-go basis in some markets where there is demand for this structure. This will allow users to purchase their desired individual features such as See Who Likes You, using Tinder Coins.
The Coins can also be used to incentivise certain behaviours to help members make more meaningful connections on Tinder, such as verifying their profile or adding video to their bio. According to Match Group, the Coins will also be essential for the virtual goods and trading ecosystem, but details have yet to be released. Tinder Coins are currently being tested in several markets in Europe, while tests for the trading system will begin in 2022.
Other monetisation plans include optimising the Explore feature on Tinder to drive Swipes, Likes and other activities. Explore is a space within the Tinder app that hosts interactive ways to meet new people. Activities such as Swipe Night, Hot Takes and Vibes allow users to navigate through profiles arranged by interest. The latest activity was Plus One, which was launched in October for users to search or tag along as a plus one for weddings. Tinder will also roll out Fast Chat in its Swipe Night experiences, allowing connect and share clues and theories without having previously sparked a formal match.
Additionally, Tinder plans to build features targeted toward specific groups of people to drive conversions. For instance, Match Group noted that female users on Tinder convert to payers at a lower rate than its other owned brands. Hence the Group plans to introduce targeted features that will provide women more power over their Tinder experience. While details have yet to be released, the Group said that tests are already underway.
According to Match Group, its plans to enter the metaverse and leverage on the virtual goods economy come as it aims to meet people's growing demand for meeting people using online tools; which accelerated due to the pandemic. "It is our focus to ensure that we continue to build products that people enjoy using and deliver the value and outcomes they are looking for, in order to drive continued growth and success across our portfolio," the Group said.
This is a significant shift from March this year when, in a bid to encourage its members to go for physical meet-ups with their matches on the app, Tinder gave out 1,000 free COVID-19 test kits. According to a press release, the dating platform mailed two test kits to 500 members based in US, so they can make sure both their match and themselves are COVID-19 negative. Tinder members could also claim a code for their free mail-in test from the Tinder app. This initiative came as Tinder observed that more than 40% of its members under the age of 30 had not met a match in person since October 2020.
Separately, Tinder also launched a mental well-being initiative #BeThereForYou last month, in collaboration with mental health app Intellect. The initiative offers free mental health resources that include access to therapy sessions to its members in the region, urging daters to check in on themselves first.
Match Group joins other brands that have entered the metaverse, such as Hyundai Motor. The automotive company's collaboration with Roblox aims to allow users to meet and communicate with one another and experience Hyundai Motor’s mobility offerings in the form of avatars. Similarly, Gucci also partnered Roblox to outfit Gen Z players and their characters, taking a leap of faith into the metaverse. Nike is also reportedly entering the metaverse having filed for several new trademarks this week. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Nike filed applications for "Nike" and its iconic slogan "Just Do It" on 27 October. A day later, it did the same for the "Jordan" brand name as well as Air Jordan and Jumpman logos.
Meanwhile, Meta even invested US$50 million for a XR Programs and Research Fund over two years to build the metaverse responsibly. To further showcase its ambition in this scene, the tech giant also rebranded its parent company from Facebook to Meta, shifting its focus away from social media.
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