Would you date someone for a Chanel bag?
New dating website rewards members with luxury goods as prizes. Experts warn gimmick could cheapen dating process
For bank analyst Miss Kelly, joining new dating website FinalSip.com is like "killing two birds with one stone".
Not only does she get to meet new guys, she could even get her hands on her dream Chanel bag.
Launched last week, the Singapore-based social networking site allows its 10,000 members to rack up bonus points and exchange them for luxury gifts such as Chanel shopping vouchers worth $500 and iPhones worth $988, should members decide to meet in real life.
In short, it incentivises and rewards its members for going on a blind date.
FinalSip is available as an app on Android phones. It will be made available to iPhones soon.
Miss Kelly, 29, told The New Paper: "I am eyeing the Chanel voucher on the website. But of course I did not join just for that.
"From what I've seen so far, the quality of the members is not bad. Many are working executives like me. So I don't have to worry about meeting weird guys." Another member, relationship manager Zhuang Yuanling, 26, finds the concept refreshing and unique.
"It's like a three-in-one package. You get to socialise and have fun, you get to accumulate points and then you get rewarded with prizes," she said.
"I am not worried that people might find me materialistic. There are many merchants who make use of memberships to entice shoppers and they have similar rewards systems as well. It's just that the rewards given on this website are more high-end."
FinalSip founder Mr Eugene Lu, 28, and co-founders Mr Bi Jiajun, 30, and Mr Vijay Mudaliar, 25, are not concerned about potential backlash.
They see it as a "naughty and cheeky way" to get more people to socialise in real life without feeling awkward. Mr Lu said: "We are just being brutally honest. The dating and socialising landscape in Singapore is becoming more transactional — people are dating for materialistic and superficial reasons, no matter how much we deny it."
The prizes are paid for from the company's funds. According to them, they make money out of the drink credits bought by members as well as advertisers on their website as they do not charge any membership fees.
However, relationship experts The New Paper spoke to warned against such gimmicks, saying that it might cheapen and complicate the dating process if it is based on a material foundation. Ms Caroline Olivares, a clinical psychologist and counsellor, said: "Relationships are already complex as they are. Treating it like a game and introducing points and rewards to the system make it messier for both parties."
Ms Ho Shee Wai, director and psychologist of The Counselling Place, said: "If a relationship does get started, it's actually less worrying. You have both people with a similar interest, that is, accumulating points in exchange for a gift.
"But one disadvantage is that you may end up having people who meet up not because they have genuine interest in the other person or starting a relationship, but more to reap the financial rewards or incentives.
"At the same time, someone who is genuine might be misjudged to be out for the rewards."
Ms Violet Lim, founder of dating agency Lunch Actually, felt that even though the founders have "good intentions", the system might be "abused" by people who meet with "no real intention to know the other party better".
FinalSip member Eric Tan found the concept "fun" and "special", but was also slightly worried that he would meet materialistic girls on the site.
The 29-year-old senior banker said: "It's really based on your luck. If I meet a girl in real life and find out that she is just exploiting me so that she can redeem her gifts, then I'll stop going out with her."
HOW IT WORKS
1. Spend up to $300 for 10,000 drinking credits to buy 10,000 shots of virtual drinks for anyone you fancy.
2. Gain 10,000 bonus points and access to a private chat with him/ her.
3. Meet up with the other party, certify him/her on the site after the date and gain another 10,000 bonus points.
4. Accumulate the bonus points to redeem luxury items such as a $500 Chanel voucher worth 40,000 bonus points or an iPad mini worth 70,000 bonus points.