Coffee Meets Bagel is a dating app designed to help individuals find a long-term match. It does this by offering daters in-depth profile creation tools and allowing them to set guidelines that help them match with others who are also looking for a serious relationship and who share the same standards and values. This helps ensure both daters are on the same page and aren’t wasting their time with mismatched intentions.
Problem: Coffee Meets Bagel’s initial efforts to build a safe, trusted community frustrated users
As a dating app, Coffee Meets Bagel’s main goal is to ensure individuals feel safe on its platform. “One of the key factors daters look for in a dating app is a sense of safety,” explains Dawoon Kang, cofounder of Coffee Meets Bagel. “Individuals are sharing personal details and need to be able to trust both the platform and the people on the platform.”
Coffee Meets Bagel’s efforts to ensure everyone feels comfortable being vulnerable and making meaningful connections are led by its trust and safety manager, JJ Foster. “Dating is hard, and dating with bad actors makes it even more difficult,” she explains. “My goal is to ensure our platform is safe for all users and protect them from risks such as fraud and hate speech.”
To accomplish this goal, Coffee Meets Bagel has implemented a number of measures aimed at preventing people with the wrong intentions from using the platform. For example, “we’re fairly strict about flagging risky users and blocking those who have violated community guidelines, such as scammers or anyone only there to promote themselves,” Dawoon explains. If these risky users want to use the platform, they need to verify their identity.
Unfortunately, these stringent measures sometimes inadvertently block good users, and Coffee Meets Bagel’s initial identity verification process was extremely inefficient. “Before Persona, identity verification was a big pain point for us,” shares JJ. “It was very manual and involved quite a bit of back and forth with the individual. As a result, the process could take a week or two, which frustrated customers.”
Coffee Meets Bagel knew this process was unsustainable. “Our users are here to meet other individuals. If they keep encountering people who aren’t who they say they are, they’ll quit,” says Dawoon. “Dating apps don’t work without that trust. We needed a quicker way to give our daters confidence.”
Solution: Coffee Meets Bagel protects its community while offering a better user experience by automating its verification process with Persona
To modernize its verification process, Coffee Meets Bagel decided to turn to a solution that specializes in identity. After evaluating a few other vendors, it ultimately chose Persona for the following reasons:
Effective, global, automated age verification
Like most dating apps, Coffee Meets Bagel requires individuals who want to use its service to be at least 18 to comply with regulations. As such, “age verification was one of the top criteria we were looking for in an identity partner,” Dawoon shares.
In particular, the app needed to ensure its identity partner could accurately verify its huge global user base. “We needed to make sure our IDV provider could communicate in a language users could understand and be able to verify IDs from around the world,” says JJ. “A number of solutions on the market advertised that they could handle these types of IDs, but when we looked under the hood, it was all vaporware.”
Persona, which provides coverage in 200+ countries and territories and 20+ languages, fit the global bill. But more than that, Coffee Meets Bagel was impressed by our ability to quickly make sure these individuals were real people — not bots or bad actors. “Verifying identities is challenging. Between false IDs, bad actors, and a lack of standardization, it requires a technical solution,” shares JJ. “With Persona, we can check government IDs and selfie liveness in real time to make sure users are the right age and cross reference multiple risk signals to help us figure out whether to approve or decline users.”
Superior user experience
While trust and safety are extremely important, sometimes efforts to build this trust can turn off users. “If the identity verification process is too time-consuming, it can deter users from completing the process, which leads to a loss in both users and potential matches,” explains JJ. As a result, Dawoon shares that one of Coffee Meets Bagel’s main buying criteria was “ease of use for our users and team.”
At Persona, our mission is to humanize online identity, so we aim to make it as easy as possible for individuals to verify their identity. One way we do this is through design features such as auto-capture, live guidance, and easy device hand-off. Additionally, we always encourage organizations to take advantage of our customizable platform and ensure their verification flows look and sound like their brand so users feel more comfortable with the process — something Coffee Meets Bagel was eager to implement.
“One of the main things I was looking for in an identity solution was being able to customize the user experience,” JJ shares. “It can be very frustrating having to verify your identity, so we wanted to make sure we could streamline the process, integrate the process into our app, and customize the flow so it looked like the Coffee Meets Bagel brand.”
But user experience doesn’t just apply to end-users — Coffee Meets Bagel also wanted a solution that would be easy for its team to use, and it was clear from the very beginning that Persona checked this box as well.
“Other vendors were super confusing and developer-oriented — I couldn’t even tell what the user experience was going to be,” shares Dawoon. “When I created an account with Persona, I was impressed with how much documentation was available — and that it was easy for someone nontechnical like me to understand. Even better, I was able to visualize the flow that the data would go through, which was important to me.”
Expertise, partnership, and ability to iterate as Coffee Meets Bagel scales
Dawoon and her cofounders didn’t create Coffee Meets Bagel because they loved verifying users. As such, she wanted an ally her team could look to for support and advice. “Things always go awry, so we needed a real partner. One reason why I like Persona is because identity verification is what Persona does.”
From her first interactions with Persona, Dawoon felt supported. “Other teams weren’t impressive when it came to helping me understand what I needed to do, and I could tell it wasn’t going to be a great partnership. With Persona, everyone took the time to walk me through the platform and its features.”
And throughout the implementation process and beyond, that support hasn’t wavered. “The Persona team created a Slack channel for easy communication and helped us customize our flows and set up workflows. They even helped us think through scenarios we wouldn’t have considered by ourselves,” Dawoon says.
This partnership is especially key to Coffee Meets Bagel’s plans for scaling in the future. “Persona has supported us every step of the way, and we know they’ll help us tackle anything in the future we might want to add — even if it’s something that hasn’t been invented yet,” JJ adds.
Results: CMB reduced its average user verification time by 99.9% and reduced human moderation costs by almost 30% by automating IDV with Persona
While Coffee Meets Bagel originally integrated using Persona’s hosted flow so it could start verifying users quickly without engineering resources, it recently switched to our mobile SDK to offer an even better user experience — and has seen an immediate difference. Because the new flow feels more professional, JJ shares that the average user verification time was reduced by 99.9% and that Persona reduced her team’s human moderation costs by almost 30%.
Through its partnership with Persona, Coffee Meets Bagel has the best of both worlds: a more secure environment for users via powerful identity verification and more daters thanks to our superior user experience. “I’m really happy with Persona — I’d recommend them to anyone who needs reliable, automated identity verification,” shares Dawoon.
From a trust and safety perspective, JJ is especially grateful for Persona’s role in helping Coffee Meets Bagel grow its trusted community of daters. “Persona helps our users be more vulnerable, which is what you need to make a social connection,” she says. “If you’re looking for a scalable, customizable, user-friendly, and cost-effective tool that’ll grow your business, Persona is what you want to go with.”