In my own social circles, some of the more common dating apps used include Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Bumble, which are all US-based companies.
Singaporean-based matchmaking service, MatchMde, is trying to make its mark with a different strategy. It claims to provide an AI dating coach to help users secure dates, among other things.
But its AI function wasn’t what caught my eye—it was its recent collaboration with Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre (MGRC) to release an add-on, opt-in service dubbed The Gene Match, available for US$245 (about RM1K).
Essentially, The Gene Match is a biocompatibility relationship matching service that isn’t a new concept globally, but it’s one that’s newer to SEA.
Finding your genetic match
It sounds pretty sci-fi, and there’s even a Netflix series called The One based on the concept. So we had to ask the team, what were they thinking?
“MatchMde’s approach has always been to help our users establish meaningful connections by leveraging science and technology,” Fabian Foo, CEO of MatchMde shared in our interview. “Our conversation with MGRC started with the idea and possibility of biocompatibility matching.”
This led to the team’s discovery of the 1995 “sweaty T-shirt study” conducted at Bern University, Switzerland.
The experiment involved women sniffing T-shirts that were recently worn by men. Its results found that women favoured the scent of those whose immune response genes were different from their own.
Further research and studies have shown that up to 40% of physical attraction may be determined through human genes alone, according to Fabian.
Though we weren’t able to get an interview with MGRC, it appears that the Bursa-listed company was also looking at new areas to expand into, other than the more common healthcare and agriculture sectors.
Having been in the business of genome sequencing and analysis since 2004, its CEO Sasha Nordin stated in a press release that the company has the capability to expand its offerings in other new areas.
“[This] partnership is proof of the opportunities to innovate and apply the science and technology of genomics in other new applications,” Sasha said.
Looking at 4 areas of biocompatibility
Most genetic tests that have taken off lately involve DNA sampling via saliva, and the same applies to The Gene Match.
Once the sample is sent back to MatchMde, it will be processed at MGRC’s recently expanded lab. Samples will require at least 18 business days to process before users can check their My DNA section on the MatchMde app for status updates.
The theory of biocompatibility believes that the higher the dissimilarity in terms of the genetic traits between 2 people, the more compatible they are.
The Gene Match looks at 4 deciding areas to determine the compatibility between people. “In simple language, it helps determine if there are any deal breakers ahead,” Fabian said.
Firstly, they look at one’s Degree of Attraction. This will allow users to find out if they have a strong degree of attraction with their match, and vice versa, based on their genetic profiles.
The second is Intimacy Satisfaction, where users can discover their preferences and response to physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological intimacy, and ways to find a match that can meet their needs.
Thirdly is the Wish for Children. This refers to their compatibility in the desire to have children, which can make or break a relationship.
Lastly, Partnership Satisfaction. It’s where factors such as the individuality of the user as a person, tendency towards positive emotions and moods VS the nature of their potential match can determine if they can both be happy together.
But the question remains, will this actually help users find “the one”? What if a person has more than one biocompatible match that checks all the boxes?
Fabian clarified that it is important to understand that there are different matching algorithms within the MatchMde platform itself. The Gene Match is more of a complementary add-on to identify a potential connection, providing another layer of filters, so to say.
“As with the main matching algorithm, the user can decide if they want to engage with the recommended match or not,” he explained.
He also addressed that there are many factors that influence or determine the overall compatibility of 2 people. Even within these 4 traits, different users have different priorities of which will play into their ultimate decision to pursue the match.
Ultimately, MatchMde’s goal is simply to provide users with information that is usually not accessible to them in order to make an informed decision about a match.
Before people pay, the app must improve
MatchMde itself is free to use, and you can certainly find matches without paying a dime. That being said though, it appears that a lot of more attractive features like The Gene Match that claim to increase your quality matching chances are locked behind a paywall.
From my perspective, there are 2 reasons that one would pay for a dating app’s services: 1) they are desperate for a match, or 2) they like the free features enough and have seen results, but would like even better ones.
To properly capture the second market, MatchMde still has room for improvement. Upon downloading the app and going through its offerings, it doesn’t seem like it has much to boast about other than its clean interface and verification process to hopefully minimise catfishing.
Despite being clean though, I noted that the interface was a little buggy. For example, some features were slow to load or respond to my touch, and sometimes there were UI elements that blocked other details.
Also, although the app makes you verify yourself via a selfie, I noticed some profiles with cartoon or blacked out images anyway, so the team will have to tighten this process much more if they really want to prevent catfishing.
What drives the usability of a dating app is also its pool of candidates, aka its user base. For the most part, I observed that there weren’t as many potential matches available to me, in comparison to my experience on other established dating apps.
To add, my colleague saw several of the same people recommended to me too, despite being over 30km away. From this, I would conclude that because the candidate pool is still limited, the app shows you people from all over the place to maximise your matching chances.
While there are reviews about the app on the App Store and Google Play saying that its AI service has helped with conversing on the app, one user complained that despite buying the VIP package, they still had trouble finding recommendations.
The overall concept that MatchMde has is certainly intriguing and new in Malaysia, but in order for The Gene Match to fully take off, the team would need to fine-tune its basic dating app services.
On the plus side, if you manage to find a match on MatchMde, at least the app offers location recommendations as date spots.
- Learn more about MatchMde here, and Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre here.
- Read about other apps we’ve written about here.
Featured Image Credit: Malaysia Genomics Resource Centre