(Reuters) - The Indian edition of dating app Tinder is trialing a new feature which gives women an additional level of scrutiny before they allow men to start messaging conversations, with a view to rolling the function out globally.
The “My Move” feature allows women to choose in their settings that only they can start a conversation with a male match after both have approved each other with Tinder’s swiping function.
Normally, the app gives both parties to a successful match - where both have swiped yes on the other’s photograph - the right to text each other immediately.
Tinder has been testing the function for several months and plans to spread it worldwide if the Indian rollout proves successful. Rival dating-app Bumble already only allows the female party to a heterosexual match to start conversations.
Dating is still frowned upon in many circles in India’s religiously- and ethnically-divided society, where arranged marriages are still the norm.
Taru Kapoor, general manager for Tinder owner Match Group (MTCH.O) in India, told Reuters the function had been pioneered in India because of Tinder’s need to attract more women to the app by making them feel more comfortable and secure.
“We’re a platform based on mutual respect, consent, and choice,” she said. “We are focused on making the experience of women safer.”
Thousands of reports of sexual violence and rape in India each year have raised concerns around the safety of women in many parts of the country.
Yet an emerging class of young, well-to-do Indians in cosmopolitan cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai have made the country Tinder’s largest market in Asia. The company also says India is its “chattiest” market globally, with users using the in-app messaging feature more than any other country.
Tinder has generally had few ad campaigns and its few glossy productions in India have tended to focus on the female experience on the app - a reflection of the predominance of men on the Indian version.
The app, which has an average 3.8 million users globally here, had the highest number of monthly active users on Android phones in India last month in the Lifestyle category, according to market data and analytics firm, App Annie.
The app is also the third highest earner by revenue across all categories when Google Play & iOS revenues are combined.
“I know the kind of creeps out there on Tinder and other dating apps,” said one of a dozen male users Reuters talked to on Tuesday.
“One extra layer of security doesn’t do much harm to men apart from slimming their chances of striking up a conversation.”
Several female users interviewed by Reuters remained skeptical about the usefulness of the feature and said the change in settings would not do much to change their experience.
“Even after carefully picking someone, if they turn out to be nothing like you imagined, there is always an unmatch option,” said one 25-year-old Bengaluru resident who met her boyfriend through Tinder.
Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham