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Momo makes a comeback overseas on a mission to become China’s Match Group

Written by Wency Chen Published on 

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China’s leading dating service provider wants to expand its businesses to Southeastern Asia.

Momo, the dominant player in China’s online dating space, makes a comeback outside of its home market through a newborn location-based social network app, dubbed Olaa, on its mission to become the Chinese counterpart of Match Group, the company behind dating platforms like Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid.

Olaa, developed by Momo’s globalization team, is now only available from the Google Play app store, 36Kr reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Olaa targets the Southeastern Asian market specifically, partly due to the company’s intention to bypass competitions from Match Group, and Facebook, which has been actively fine-tuning an opt-in dating feature for its users.

According to Sensor Tower, Olaa is a “next-generation social networking app for all users to help connections with new people nearby.” The app offers nearby location functions to connect with people in the same area, in a “safe and secure” way. Users can click on a nearby profile and “Say Hi” to match with other users.

Ola is currently open to users in Indonesia, Philippines, Macao, and Luxembourg, according to industry data provider App Annie. It has been downloaded more than 50,000 times since its launch in October, mostly from Indonesia.

Photo source: Screenshot from Google Play app store.

Momo tapped into the US’s online-dating field as early as in 2012 by launching an English version of Momo. Moreover, in 2014, several days before its listing on Nasdaq, Momo released another platform called Blupe, seeking to “to connect with new people who share similar interests”, yet both apps received lukewarm support.

Momo’s higher global push comes at a time when its growth in revenue and new users has been slowing down in recent years, although new features were introduced including live-streaming and mobile games. In the second quarter of 2019, Momo’s net revenues were USD 604.9 million, up 32% from last year, while the company reported a three-digit increase in earlier years. In the same period of 2017, Momo booked revenues of USD 312.2 million, with a 215% year-on-year increase.

Tinder-style dating app Tantan, which was bought by Momo in 2018, is also seeking to expand its presence outside of China. The firm plans to break even next year, according to Tantan’s founder Wang Yu. “But the timeline will mainly depending on the speed of global expansion,” said Wang during the second-quarter earnings call.

This year, Momo has been developing a mix of entertainment apps including face-swapping tool Zao, social app Shita (“It’s him” in Chinese) and mask-chat dating app Qiaoqiao (meaning “look look”).

Zao went viral within days of the debut, but faced a backlash soon over its potential violations of user data collection, KrASIA wrote.

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