One industry that has been as transformed as any other by the advent of the internet has been the dating industry.
Before the onset of the World Wide Web, love seekers looking to cast their nets might place personal ads in local dailies. Now, with the internet and, more recently, blockchain technology, the dating game has changed.
In the U.S. alone, the online dating industry is estimated to be worth over $2.5 billion, according to Market Research . The sector is expected to maintain continuous growth, with a study by Statista predicting a global annual revenue growth rate of 3.9 percent from 2018 to 2022. However, with the entry of blockchain technology, growth could accelerate because the technology is offering to eliminate the key challenges that are keeping the masses from embracing online dating.
One of these challenges is identity verification, which leads to the fear of falling victim to scammers hiding behind fake dating profiles. In 2016, the BBC reported a case of a Swedish woman who had lost thousands of euros to a Nigerian scammer she had met and befriended online. In another case, reported in Reader's Digest , a widowed woman in her 50s is said to have lost over $300,000 to an online lover turned scammer. Unfortunately, these two cases are not the only ones; according to a report by Scam Watch , the dating and romance industry is the second-most targeted by scammers. The report shows that in 2017 alone, over $20 million was lost through dating- and romance-related fraud.
Blockchain technology is doing away with this challenge by providing a foolproof mechanism for verifying every user's account. As a result, with a blockchain-powered platform, users can have an assurance of the true identity of the people behind profiles.
Another challenge that the technology is countering involves personal data safety. Dating sites have always been a top target for hackers, with a study by IBM Security showing that 60 percent of Android-based mobile dating apps are prone to hacking. The worst case so far happened in 2015 when Ashley Madison , a Canadian dating website for people seeking extramarital affairs, was hacked and more than 25 gigabytes of data was stolen, leading to a lawsuit worth over $500 million.
With blockchain technology, online dating firms and users have a guarantee of top-level personal data safety. Hicky , for example, is an Ethereum-based platform that seeks to enable online dating user verification through face scanning and voice identification while ensuring data safety by storing it in an immutable public ledger.
Viola.AI , another dating platform driven by artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain technology, aims to increase transparency in online dating through a "real ID" verification system. The system applies face recognition technology to identify the authenticity of photos used in online dating accounts. Once the information is confirmed, it is stored in a decentralized public ledger where it cannot be stolen by hackers.
There are many ways that blockchain technology can improve the online dating industry, and this is just the beginning. For forward-thinking innovators and investors, this is, therefore, the best time to get in the game.