Love in century the 21st | Bangkok Post: tech

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Love in century the 21st

With St Valentine’s Day approaching, we take you on a tour of online match-making apps catered for Thai lovelorns

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Karn, 33, is a marketing professional at a multinational company who has little chance to meet the right person. She’s always busy with work and often travels around the world. When a friend suggested that she sign up at Noonswoon, a dating app, Karn found it fascinating. 

She knew that there are many dating apps in the market, but most are developed by foreigners, which she never believed would work for Thai users. However, once Karn tried Noonswoon, even though it was her first online dating experience, she found it applicable to Thai culture. Every day at noon the app sends her a match. If she’s interested in the person, she can turn her 10 candy symbols into a “Like”. The app offers each user 100 free candies, which is equivalent to 10 “Likes”. 

The app connects personal data from Facebook and the matches are based on common interests. “I think that my Facebook page represents the kind of person I am, so the app connects people who have the same lifestyles as me,” Karn said.

Kavin Asavanant, the founder of Noonswoon, points out that while most dating apps are about casual relationships Noonswoon is serious about setting up quality matches and establishing a private connection when there is mutual interest.

Ha Peun Ha Khoo.

The app analyses friends of friends on Facebook and introduces users to a new person daily at noon (thus the name “Noonswoon”). Users can make a decision by assigning a “Like” to the match. If both parties “Like” each other, a message appears and they can begin chatting. Users can also introduce their single friends to others.

“Noonswoon is 100% confidential. No one will know you are using the app unless you tell them,” according to the app developer. The app offers users 100 free candies and once those run out, it costs 30 baht for another 10 candies, or subscribers can pay 300 baht a month for unlimited “Likes”.

However, Karn did not get a chance to run out of candy. “The first match clicked because in the ‘preference’ field, he said he was spiritual, but not religious, and that intrigued me. I asked him what he meant and he replied that he was a student of the late Satya Naravan Goenka, the noted Burmese-Indian teacher, whose vipassana courses I used to attend,” Karn told Life. That was the beginning of their relationship, which has gradually developed into love.

“I think the app has a good algorithm [in matching people together],” she said. She was surprised that on the third day after she signed up, the app matched her with her ex-boyfriend. “It is the intelligence of the app developers as they designed an app that connects people with common interests.”

Noonswoon was launched in mid-2013. Since then, Kavin said there have been around 3,000 connections with more than 35,000 chat messages. However, not all matches are successful. The number of users has grown by 30% since the launch, and the Thai and English languages app serves singles between the ages of 25-35.

“We are developing new features so that it appeals more to Thai people. Not just technology wise, but in the sense of psychology,” said Kavin.

Another Thai dating app that has gained popularity is Avalable, developed by Singles Solutions. It is popular in many countries since it can support 15 languages, on Android and iOS platforms.

Nikki Assavathorn, CEO and co-founder Singles Solutions, pointed out that Avalable is a community that helps singles find someone compatible. To sign up, you need to answer 15 questions that define you. The app then will recommend a person who matches best. Having launched in April last year, the app was ranked top in the lifestyle category and is not for children under the age of 18. There are more than 100,000 users of which 5,000-6,000 use the app daily.

“This is a community for singles where one can post their feelings, something that they cannot do on Facebook. Many couples, though successful in love, still hang out here,” said Nicky, noting that Avalable is not just for dating, it’s also for making new friends.

Offered as a freemium model, the app is free to use with an optional auto-renewable subscription, starting from US$4.99 –US$39.99 (131-1,300 baht). Users sign in with their Facebook account or create new one on the app. Avalable lets you to create and personalise your profile and upload unlimited pictures. Users then receive matches instantly, based on compatibility scores. They can chat with people nearby or someone that piques their interests from the matches, share updates, add friends and mark favourites, discover new places and activities in their city, and play games.

The app is an extension of Nikki’s offline professional match-making agency, MeetNLunch, as she studied the trend and found that the search for a “dating app” has increased during these past few years.

Another free mobile app by a Thai developer is Ha Peun Ha Khoo (“find friend and couple”), which has been downloaded by more than 30,000 users, both men and women. Users register with their emails, then they can choose to chat with others, in private or public room, by exchanging their Line ID or Facebook details.

Sumeth Jenpanit, web master and app developer of rankhathai.com who offers the app said that the app did not monitor the friendship between two people. “The app is just a tool for people to make new friends or find love. The only thing we look out for is obscene, pronographic, abusive, insulting or threatening posts,” he said.

Late last year, Singaporean matchmaking app Paktor was launched in Thailand connecting lonely souls with its popular features and simple Facebook sign-up.

With the concept of ‘’The right one is nearby’’, Paktor highlights include ‘’Double-Blind’’, which helps users get over the fear of being rejected as the matchmaking procedure only goes forward if both people ‘’Like’’ each other’s profile. The ‘’Location Bases’’ feature allows people to connect with a new friend no further than 100km away.

Whereas US applications do not serve Asia well, Juseph Phua, the app’s inventor said Paktor is one that responds well to the culture, habits and lifestyles of people in this region, who can be shy when it comes to getting to know new people.

‘’Connecting through Paktor will help you meet new people with whom you have mutual likes and lifestyles in the easiest way possible,’’ he added. The app will help you find people who like you, while maintaining your anonymity and allowing you to connect with them if feelings are mutual. Paktor can be downloaded through Google Play and Apple’s App Store. The application is one of the top three apps in Singapore.

Singaporean matchmaking app Paktor.

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