PETALING JAYA, Nov 5 — Singaporean matchmaker Anisa Hassan has harnessed the power of technology to help Muslim singles in their search for love.
Anisa, who made her mark with the luxury matchmaking service Date High Flyers, has created Joompa, a Muslim-friendly dating app that offers a safe space for users to find like-minded individuals seeking long-term relationships.
The former newscaster has successfully paired up over 1,000 couples during her 16 years as a matchmaker and she saw a chance to jump into the online dating market after noticing that the needs of Muslim singles were often ignored on mainstream dating apps.
"From a matchmaker’s perspective, I’ve realised that Muslim singles are in dire need of a platform where they can connect safely and be matched with someone who shares the same religion and culture.
"What was missing at that point was a platform that addresses the specific and unique requirements of Muslim singles and there was a gap that I felt needed to be filled. Thus, Joompa was born,” Anisa told Malay Mail.
There's no doubt that the online dating market is ripe for the picking as App Annie reports that Malaysians collectively spent RM24 million on dating apps alone in 2019.
While mainstream names like Tinder, Bumble, and Tantan dominate the market, Joompa aims to become the go-to dating app for Muslim singles by setting itself apart from the competition.
The app does so by spotlighting a person’s interests and values instead of their looks while ensuring a safe and ethical environment for its users.
Users will be asked a series of questions — ranging from their hobbies to their level of religiosity — which will be used to assess their compatibility with other people on the app.
In line with being a Muslim-friendly dating platform, the questions will also cover core beliefs and practices in Islam such as fasting during Ramadan and performing daily prayers.
Joompa’s patent-pending Compatibility Meter will then show how well-matched two users might be, allowing users to make better choices about who they choose to strike up a conversation with on the app.
"We’re so used to accepting or turning down individuals based on their looks alone but I’m more concerned about making a good match and how sustainable that match would be.
"There is no swiping function on Joompa and that’s where we’re different. We don’t want users to pass up on potentials just based on the way they look,” says Anisa.
By curating matches for users, Joompa avoids creating "swiping fatigue,,a phenomenon experienced by users of online dating who get stuck in an endless loop of swiping due to the overwhelming number of potential partners.
Anisa emphasised that Joompa aims to foster friendships between individuals first with the hope that these feelings will naturally grow into a desire for a long-term relationship and marriage.
The app has been gaining steady interest in Malaysia, with over 16,000 downloads since it launched in early September this year and approximately 70 per cent of its 6,000 active users being Malaysians.
Joompa’s Compatibility Meter helps users to find like-minded singles who are looking for long-term relationships. — Screengrab from YouTube
With safety as the main priority, Anisa says that Joompa users will have to go through a more "rigorous” sign-up process to verify their identity.
Besides sharing one’s preferences and interests, users are also asked to take a selfie and photo of their identity card to prove that they are who they say they are.
The Joompa team also keeps an eye out for potential scammers and "catfishers” (people who use fake photos) by removing their profile if their pictures do not align with the selfies taken during the sign-up stage.
"People who are used to the mainstream way of online dating will find our process a little more cumbersome because they will be asked a lot of questions that might make them wonder why we need so much information.
"Ours is a more deliberate and thoughtful process and those who want the safety element to be present would understand why we make our sign-up process a little more rigorous," said Anisa.
Forging connections from a distance
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down and online dating is no exception.
With people unable to meet their online matches in person for the time being, Joompa has turned this setback into an opportunity for its users to make meaningful connections by using the app's video chat function.
Anisa says that Joompa’s in-app messaging and video chat feature allows users to communicate with each other in a safe environment without having to share their phone numbers right away.
The seasoned love guru advised users to make the best out of staying at home by conversing with their online matches and deepening their knowledge and appreciation of the other person’s interests and values.
When both parties feel comfortable, they can then go on to video calls to get a sense of what the other person will be like once they get a chance to meet in person.
"We have a video function that we incorporated into the app. When you become a subscriber, you can ‘meet’ people easily no matter where you are.
"Whether you’re in Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Johor, or wherever, a match is a match.
"Distance should not be a deterrent for you in finding a potential life partner,” said Anisa.
One million Muslim marriages worldwide
Joompa is gearing up to become the go-to app for single Muslims looking for love. — Screengrab from Joompa on iTunes store
Joompa aims to create one million Muslim marriages worldwide and Anisa says that the app will be adapted to suit local markets when it launches in different countries in the future.
Factors such as cultural sensitivities and even bandwidth constraints in rural areas will be taken into account once Joompa debuts abroad.
Anisa added that even non-Muslims are welcome to join the app as long as they are comfortable with meeting people from a different religious background.
"It’s like going to a halal buffet. The intended users of the app are Muslims but non-Muslims are also free to join.
"Islam has no ethnicity, caste, or classes, and if you are not opposed to the idea that the people you will be seeing a lot on the app are Muslims, you’re welcome to join Joompa.”
Signing up for Joompa is free and users will have to opt for a paid subscription to access the app"s messaging and video chat features as well as other perks.
A one-month plan costs S$29.98 (RM91.42), while a three-month and six-month subscription costs RM146.45 and RM182.90 respectively.
For more information, visit Joompa’s official website.