'Hard to meet people' "When I came to Asia, I realised it was hard to meet people," explains Colombian-born CEO Camilo Paredes."I also realised that most of the Asians were somewhat shy, they're not confrontational, they don't put themselves out there." His solution was to mimic American Grouper, which matches two people according to the information on their Facebook profiles, then asks them to bring two friends with them to a bar for a six-person meet up.
In Singapore, most users are locals and there are plans to roll out the service to Japan, South Korea, Australia and China.
"For me, if somebody else likes the guy, they can have them," says Aly, a 24-year-old blogger from the UK and Grouvly regular.
"Ok, they're nice, but I've met them for what, two hours?
I'm not going to cry about it." Aly finds these apps can be as much about making friends as looking for love, with Peekawoo's founder saying this change of focus also allows women to take back control.
"There was one Peekawoo event where a Filipino-American guy offended a Filipina girl by asking her to go home with him," Balace remembered. We told the guy what he did was wrong, and we never invited him again." While dating apps developed in the West encourage one-on-one meetings, many in Asia are as much about old-school courtship or friendship in a region where meeting a stranger in a bar can still be a taboo 'Sign of promiscuity' Even if the Singapore-based Paktor—which claims 3.5 million registered users—is less averse to hook ups, it has recently also added functions such as group chats.
"People either organise a group meeting or they reach out to one person in that chat to have a conversation with them," explains Joseph Phua, 31, co-founder of the app.
"It's true that people here tend to be more reserved, less direct," he added.
"Asian society feels failure or rejection more strongly, it's just part of the fabric of society.
While dating apps developed in the West encourage one-on-one, often no-strings-attached meetings, many in Asia are as much about old-school courtship or friendship in a region where meeting a stranger in a bar can still be a taboo.
"My upbringing was very close to my parents, religious, traditional and old-fashioned.
You couldn't go on dates if your parents didn't know the guy," said Valenice Balace, who developed the Peekawoo service in the Philippines two years ago.