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Why Digital Dating Is Now An Innovator's Game

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For those familiar with online dating, the challenge of standing out in a crowded field is nothing new. Hundreds if not thousands of think pieces have already been written about the game theory involved in choosing the right profile picture and composing the correct brief biography to attract the eyes of those casually perusing their romantic options.

Generally when we think of the difficulty distinguishing oneself in the realm of digital dating, we are talking about the consumers using the platforms to find love, not the platforms themselves. But all that changed a little over a month ago when a new competitor that casts a very long shadow stepped into the digital dating arena and tipped the balance of power in the field.

Facebook’s entrance into digital dating has been long anticipated — the social media firm announced its plans to begin moving into the world of matchmaking in mid-2018. Facebook’s announcement that it was entering the arena alone was enough to tank the stock price ranking of the 800-pound gorilla in the eDating world, Match Inc.

Facebook’s service formally launched in the U.S. about three weeks ago, and is in some ways similar to any other online dating app — the user creates a profile, and the service offers up possible matches based on location, indicated preferences and other factors. Users can also guiding the matching mechanism to find people who are part of the same Facebook events or groups as they are. The service, however, will not match people with existing friends.

What Facebook has that no other service can hope to match, of course, are its massive networks of people, troves of data on users, ability to connect up to Instagram or the ability to offer up the “Secret Crushes feature. Secret Crushes elect up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram folks they want to express an interest in — as long as that person indicates they have a crush back.

It’s a competitive offering, and one that several experts in the field say will remake the face of digital dating. The Atlantic, for example, has speculated that Facebook might be the cure to the dating world created by Tinder.

But Tinder is not going down without a battle — and one it is getting creative at fighting. It may not be able to match Facebook’s size and scope as a social media network, so it seems Tinder is investigating more inventive ways of helping couples make a match.

According to reports in Variety, that includes a step into some rather niche-seeming original video content. Tinder is apparently developing  a lengthy Choose Your Own Adventure-style series about a group of characters facing the end of the world. It’ll be controlled by swipes, because it is Tinder, after all, and will feature about two hours worth of material. And if you are wondering how exactly any of that relates to matchmaking — the theory is that individuals who make similar choices during the “life or death” scenarios might make good matches.

Because there is truly no surer sign of true love than knowing you and your potential mate would respond to an onslaught of zombies in a similar manner.

Or maybe not, but as first date icebreakers go, there are worse openers than discussing a survivalist video game.

Tinder thus far has declined to offer official comment on the reports. And while it would not be Tinder’s first slightly out-of-the-box approach to the online dating game, it would certainly be its most unusual move thus far.

If, of course, the concept ever actually sees the light of day — a still unknown issue given that Tinder hasn’t released any word on its post-apocalyptic matchmaking tool.

But what seems clear is that inventive is the name of the game in dating, now that Facebook has set up shop. There is no guarantee Facebook’s iteration of matchmaking will work — many have noted it could easily flop, as many ventures before it have. And the reviews so far have been mixed at best. But insofar as Facebook can stay in the game for a long time, and continue to perfect that offering, anyone else hoping to help consumers find love in the time of digital everything probably has a lot of inventing and innovating ahead of them.

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NEW PYMNTS STUDY: LEVERAGING THE DIGITAL BANKING SHIFT – SEPTEMBER 2020  

The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.

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