Now part of mainstream culture, Chinese dating apps have adopted familiar features such as swiping, chat interfaces, and location-based matching. But they have also introduced unique elements such as matchmaker-mediated chats and voice-based speed dating.
All the features stimulate ensure each app makes money. According to Statista, the Chinese online dating apps market continues to grow, reaching an estimated $286 million by 2023. The CAGR is predicted to be around 1.92%. The Chinese dating apps market is predicted to reach approximately $308.6 million by 2027.
Online dating apps in China attract a large audience: the number of active users is expected to reach 88.7 million by 2027, while user penetration is expected to increase from 5.4% in 2023 to 5.9% in 2027. Chinese dating apps are especially popular among young people. The younger generation has traditionally been influenced by their parents when it comes to dating and marriage. Today younger users more often use the Internet to find a partner.
China dating sites such as Yidui, Tantan, Momo and many other Chinese apps dominate the local market, while foreign dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble struggle to compete with their local counterparts. Popular Chinese dating apps are leaders among other Asian dating sites in terms of revenue and the number of Asian singles use them actively.
Since its inception in 2011, Momo has undergone a remarkable transformation. Initially conceived as a straightforward location-based Chinese dating app, it has since evolved into a comprehensive social platform in China.
Beyond its original dating features, Momo now encompasses an array of functionalities, including group chats, live streaming, short-video content, and casual gaming.
Notably, in December 2014, Momo achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first and only Chinese dating app to go public on Nasdaq, a mere three years after its establishment.
At that juncture, it boasted an impressive user base of nearly 70 million monthly active users, being the most popular Chinese dating app. Prominent early investors, including Matrix Partners China, Sequoia Capital, Alibaba, and Tiger Global Management, invested money in the site and contributed to its growth and success.
Upon completing their registration with personal details, users gain the ability to connect with nearby individuals and start unlimited messaging with those they wish to know better.
The Chinese dating site also encompasses dedicated sections for audio and video chat, spanning various categories such as music, outdoor activities, talk shows, and gaming.
Users have the option to send virtual gifts to livestreamers, with transactions conducted using Momo coins (where seven Momo coins equate to one yuan). Furthermore, the platform offers a selection of hyper-casual games for users to enjoy.
Momo extends a premium membership option, priced at RMB 12 (about $1.7) per month. This membership unlocks more features, including the ability to apply more filters when searching for friends, connect with individuals in different cities, and access an expanded database of stickers for enriching conversations.
Often compared to the Chinese version of international dating site Tinder due to its strikingly similar interface, functionality, and premium offerings, Tantan debuted in June 2014 and was an instant success. Within just one year, the Chinese dating app boasted a user base of over 5 million daily active users.
Dating site's rapid growth attracted a flurry of investments, with venture capital firms such as Bertelsmann, Genesis Capital, and DCM Ventures contributing over USD 120 million. In 2018, Tantan underwent a significant development when it was acquired by Momo, the largest location-based social platform and a prominent Chinese dating site.
In early 2019, however, Tantan faced a setback when it was temporarily removed from both the Android and Apple app stores amid rumors that it was "spreading pornographic content" in China. It eventually returned to those platforms a few months later.
Tantan can be considered as Chinese Tinder, because it closely mirrors Tinder in its core concept. In Tantan you can upload photos, simply swipe left or right through user profiles.
On the main page, users encounter profiles of other users, complete with photos and essential details like a brief bio, occupation, and interests. Additionally, the app offers conversation starters to facilitate interactions. When two users mutually swipe right, signaling mutual interest, they gain the opportunity to initiate a private conversation.
For enhanced features, users have the option to subscribe to a premium membership priced at RMB 12 (about 1.7$) per month. This unlocks privileges such as unlimited daily swipes and access to user profiles from different geographic locations.
Launched in 2017, Beijing Milian Technology's video-based speed matchmaking app gained significant traction in late 2019, becoming a popular Chinese dating app focused on singles in lower-tier cities.
Originally, Yidui started as a text-only dating app, akin to Tinder, but struggled in its target market, according to founder Ren Zhe in an interview with local tech outlet 36Kr.
To boost engagement, the app introduced professional matchmakers and live streaming, acting as conversation catalysts.
In June 2019, the company secured funding from Bluerun Ventures, followed by an A+ round, with investments from Bluerun and XVC Venture Capital again after six months.
This unique Chinese dating app stands out by introducing live streaming, where users can engage in video chats with the guidance of matchmakers. These matchmakers not only seek potential matches but also foster connections through video dating sessions.
The app's video-centric approach aims to combat the issue of fake profiles and bots common on dating platforms. Users can either join matchmaker-hosted live streams or select potential matches from algorithm-generated recommendations.
The app offers a freemium model, with premium accounts available for RMB 30 (USD 4) per month, granting access to features like read status and profile visitors.
Baihe takes the search for a romantic partner to a new level of seriousness. It caters to Chinese singles who are genuinely interested in finding the perfect matches and serious relationships, bypassing those who are merely looking for casual encounters.
In Baihe, user profiles resemble professional resumes more than typical dating profiles. Authenticity is paramount, as Chinese people who use the dating site are required to utilize real names and undergo verification processes to eliminate fake profiles.
Additionally, users are encouraged to showcase their assets, including properties and vehicles, accompanied by tangible proof of ownership. Educational qualifications, such as diplomas and certificates, alongside credit scores, are common elements within user profiles.
Baihe approaches dating as a weighty endeavor, setting it apart from other Chinese dating apps by fostering this earnest attitude toward the quest for lasting relationships.
The name "QingChiFan" literally translates to "invitation to a meal," a self-explanatory moniker for this Chinese dating app. Its core concept revolves around the idea that sharing a meal is one of the most natural ways to get to know special someone.
Typically, it is the guys who extend dinner invitations, and it is up to Chinese girls to accept or decline them, although the reverse scenario is also possible, albeit less common.
Users have the flexibility to extend invitations to individuals or even groups and can specify the timeframe during which the invitation is valid, whether it's for today, tomorrow, or within a week.
The person extending the invitation, known as the "inviter," can refine the criteria for potential invitees based on factors like age, profession, and even zodiac signs.
QingChiFan presents an intriguing concept with significant potential, offering a unique approach to dating that doesn't have a direct Western equivalent, as far as we are aware.
Tencent is on a mission to establish itself as the dominant player in the mobile dating market, and it has introduced a new app called Qingliao, marketed as a platform for "high-quality socializing."
In essence, Qingliao resembles yet another Tinder-like application, where users are matched based on mutual interest. The key distinction lies in the user interface: instead of the familiar left or right swipes, users employ a "heart" or "cross" symbol to indicate their preferences.
Tencent places a strong emphasis on member verification, which can be accomplished by linking a user's verified WeChat account or submitting a photo ID.
Qingliao imposes a restriction on the total number of profiles users can view within an 18-hour timeframe, allowing Chinese men to view 15 profiles and Chinese women 22 profiles.
It is likely that premium members will have the option to expand this limit. However, this feature was not available at the time of our review.
Tencent has recently introduced Maohu, an innovative dating app with a strong focus on video interactions.
Maohu's matching algorithm takes into account factors like gender (with only heterosexual pairings allowed), location, interests, and dating preferences.
Once users are successfully matched, their communication is limited to 5-minute "dating sessions," during which they wear a virtual "mask." For male users, this mask is removed after 5 minutes, whereas female users have the option to keep it on indefinitely. Upon mask removal, automatic beauty filters are applied to enhance the user's appearance.
This app takes a deliberate "slow dating" approach, permitting users to engage in just three conversations per day. The concept of an "only video" dating app is relatively novel in the market, but it seems to be gaining traction, especially with the growing popularity of live streaming platforms.
Blued is a standout among Chinese dating apps, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community, and offers not only a version for those who speak Mandarin Chinese, but also an English version.
It requires users to upload a short video upon registration, ensuring profile authenticity without revealing real identities, which is crucial in conservative Chinese society.
Despite being the top app for LGBTQ+ dating, it faces competition from a Chinese billionaire who acquired a majority stake in Grindr, a renowned Western counterpart, potentially reshaping the dating app landscape in China and beyond.
Blued, akin to Momo but with a unique user focus, lets you connect with nearby people, join live streams, share life moments, and access sexual education content. They emphasize user privacy by disabling screenshots and recordings.
A RMB 30 (about 4$) membership unlocks premium perks: ad-free browsing, private profile visits, and selective visibility to specific users.
Today, western men and women prefer to develop communication with new friends on Facebook, WhatsApp, and other western apps popular in the world. Chinese people prefer WeChat, which is the biggest app in the Middle Kingdom (Facebook, like many other western apps, is blocked in China).
WeChat may not be conventionally labeled as a dating app, but it often functions as one. Its widely-used "Search nearby" feature allows users to discover profiles within a close proximity, with filters available for gender preferences. To appear in search results, users must enable this feature, ensuring that their presence is intentional.
What's more, regardless of the initial Chinese dating app used, Chinese singles often transition to WeChat for communication, as it is a common and convenient platform for everyone. It enables instant messaging, voice messages, file transfers and many other options. While WeChat may not bear the dating app title, it undeniably plays a significant role within the broader Chinese dating industry.
To sum it up, Chinese dating apps have truly transformed the dating landscape, introducing fresh concepts like livestreaming and personalized matchmaking. These platforms are actively tackling issues like fake profiles, making dating in China a unique and dynamic experience.
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