CHINA DAILY/ANN – Zhang Xiaojing is a 33-year-old accountant for a foreign trade company in Beijing who has been spending time scrolling through her dating apps since the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Zhang is looking to find a boyfriend and get married as soon as possible. “I used to participate in offline dating activities during the weekends, but almost all gatherings have been prohibited. Cinemas were shut down to curb the spread of the deadly virus. I have to remain indoors to avoid getting infected.” Zhang downloaded several online dating apps. They included Momo and Tantan in a bid to make new friends, and to give her some relief from the stress and loneliness. She noted that Tantan’s way of finding dates, unlike traditional dating websites, is more interesting and simple.
“You just browse the profiles recommended to you based on your location and distance.
“I chat only with the people that I am matched with, and can also choose to hide my contacts.” For Zhang, online romance in the time of the contagion has become more than just finding love. It is also a source of comfort and connection.
Online dating apps have seen a significant increase in usage due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Industry experts said the “cloud matchmaking” method, which includes livestreaming and short videos formats which comply with the habits of users and satisfy the needs of self-presentation, is gaining traction among singles. A report released by mobile dating app Tantan said the average time people spent on the app in early and mid February increased over 30 per cent compared with the average usage during normal times. The number of users surged 60 per cent during the peak hour which often runs from midnight to 1 am.
Founded in 2014, Tantan focusses on one-on-one interactions and targets students and white-collar workers. Women accounted for nearly half of the total users. So far, it has 10.5 million daily active users and 35 million monthly active users.
For singles, the pressure to get married usually increases when they return home during the Spring Festival holiday for family reunions. Their parents, grandparents and other relatives badger them about their personal lives to nosily inquire why they have not gotten married.
Zhenai.com, a popular matchmaking application website, said its active users reached 10 million during the Lunar New Year holiday, an increase of 39.3 per cent compared with the same period of last year. More than 10,300 people found highly compatible matches on the app.
CEO of online matchmaking and dating platform Baihe Jiayuan Network Group Co Wu Linguang said video and livestreaming dating services have been launched to attract customers during the epidemic.
Statistics from the company showed the time users spend on video dating rose 29.8 per cent during the Spring Festival holiday, compared with the data from the festive season last year. The average usage time skyrocketed 93 per cent versus the time from the same period a year ago. Surfing the Internet has become a major way to help ease their anxiety, with 30 per cent of singles keen about making friends online.
“The epidemic has given a big boost to the online dating apps, which are usually in the off season in the first quarter and gradually gain popularity after the Spring Festival,” said Yang Xin, an analyst with Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys. Yang believes that with rapidly increasing traffic, mobile app companies should think of how to hang onto their customers when the pandemic ends.