In the digital age, push notifications are the first thing many people look at when they wake up. It makes sense, then, for some people to make friends and find love ones through apps. The Facebook-based online dating app “pairs” from Tokyo (available in iOS and Android) just announced that it has hit 740,000 registered users in Japan and more than 300,000 from Taiwan, despite the fact that online dating is controversial in Japan (Japan Times).

Source: pairs

Source: pairs

pairs has a number of tools to get around the stigma attached to online dating in Japan. Only users with “Single” relationship status on Facebook can join. The app also has an age restriction and outsourced web monitoring vendor to ensure safety. Perhaps most intriguingly, it has a female-dominated team to “give a sense of security for female users” and to create a “pure” image of online dating, according to Takeru Kawashita from pairs. To help find the right partner, “pairs” has a “community” feature that allows users to meet based on interests.

The "pure" and "secure" feeling pairs strikes to create for Japanese female users.

The “pure” and “secure” feeling pairs strikes to create for Japanese female users.

Given Japan’s demographic crisis, dating is okay as long as it leads to marriage. According to pairs, it has 3.2 million matches and 6,500 users reported that they have moved onto serious dating and marriage, although many cases might go unreported. It’s unsurprising that online dating is gradually becoming acceptable to Japanese. As “pairs” discloses to Technode, it will “devote to spread the concept of ‘online dating’, a much easier way to find and meet compatible partner.”

Some Japanese municipal governments have also taken the unusual step to support online dating in the hope of encouraging marriage and eventually birthrates. For instance, in Itoigawa city, Niigata Prefecture, the local government partners with matchmakers Zwei to help singles find their love ones online (Source: Japan Pulse, J-Cast). 

A subsidiary of the Tokyo startup eureka, “pairs” charges a monthly subscription fee from male users and points from both genders. Similar social Facebook dating services in Japan include Omiai and DMM Koikatsu, but pairs told Technode that it has outperformed the competitors in terms of number of users and Facebook likes. pairs is currently planning a major expansion in other Asian countries, among which Indonesia and Malaysia are the its most attractive markets.

It remains interesting to see what role online dating will play in Japan’s demographic crisis, and whether pairs can replicate its success model in its Asian neighbors.