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Saturday, September 30, 2017 by Aman
Spotted a cutie in Singapore, but tongue-tied? No problem -- just grab your phone, and download one of the many new dating apps for singles in Asia.
At first sight, these apps may look a lot like Tinder, the U.S.-based app that lets users anonymously approve or reject matches with a simple swipe.
But the similarities stop there for Tinder's homegrown Asian rivals.
The entrepreneurs behind these apps say dating in Asia is different -- swapping numbers at a bar or hooking up just isn't common. These apps aim to create a friendly, safe community for users to meet other interesting folk.
"Tinder is bright red, whereas we take toned down colors like blue, purple, green -- it calms," said Joseph Phua, founder of Singapore-based dating app Paktor. "When you're using the app, you don't feel like it's something that's leaning towards hookups -- it's a way to meet new people."
Here's a look at what sets Asia's dating apps apart:
Related: 10 alternatives to Tinder
Get a third wheel
Wish you had a wing man? Need a buddy in case you want to bail on a bad date?
Philippines app Peekawoo will find you a chaperone, or organize a group date. (Supervised dating isn't unusual in this mainly Roman Catholic country.)
Having a chaperone adds security when meeting for the first time, said founder and CEO Valenice Balace, who has acted as a chaperone. And group dating "keeps the conversation light," she said.
Peekawoo's group dates can include up to six people, and they'll even host larger events with "an in-house wing man and wing woman," whose sole responsibility is to help break the ice.
In the Philippines, people "tend to look for someone to talk to, maybe have a direct connection with, but not really boyfriend-girlfriend right away, because people here [take things] really slow," Balace said.
Related: You'll never believe these dating services
No adultery allowed
Looking for a mistress? Forget about it!
"We do not let married men on the app," said Woo co-founder Sumesh Menon. Launched just last year, the app has nearly 1 million users in India.
Woo users must have Facebook(FB) to sign up. That's standard for dating apps around the world, but Woo goes further by cross-referencing social media accounts to make sure users represent themselves accurately. The app rejects roughly 30% of sign-ups a day.
For example, Woo will check a user's marital status and look at professional LinkedIn profiles, which Menon says are much less likely to contain false information. There's even a feature that lets users report people who they know are married, he said.
In a country where parents often still vet spouses -- 90% of marriages in India are arranged, according to UNICEF -- this particular feature builds confidence among users that the people they're meeting are indeed genuine.
Paktor, the Singapore-based app, also screens users for fake accounts, and requires you to have at least 50 friends on Facebook to sign up.
Related: Doggie dates have come to Tinder!
Paktor lets users adjust their preferences to meet people across the region. "If I'm sitting in Singapore, I can actually match with someone in Taiwan," said Phua. (He used his own app to meet his Taiwanese fiancee.)
The app translates messages so users can chat to people who speak another language. Roughly 25% of Paktor's matches are between singles across borders.
Paktor even matches groups of up to eight people who have common interests. The idea is that users will bond over shared experiences, before moving in a romantic direction. "We're trying to take cues from successes in real life and try to put that in the app," Phua said.
Self help guides
Not sure what your best selfie angle is? Or don't even know how to download the app and too embarrassed to ask for help? Peekawoo offers tips on its blog and organizes get-togethers for single gals.
"People have tons of questions," Balace said, about online dating, how to use Peekawoo and more.
Peekawoo even organizes events for singles under 30 to help build a friendly offline community and pave the way for online interaction.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published March 22, 2015: 9:29 PM ET