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We have seen growing interest in Singapore-based social networking app Bondee that allows users to create personalized avatars, design rooms, mingle with friends, and join virtual voyages. 

For Gen-Zs who spent much of their time with friends in the metaverse during Chinese New Year, could Bondee be the next “in” thing?

Launched by Singapore-based tech startup Metadream in January, the game has resonated with a surprisingly wide audience. Bondee has had over 5 million downloads on Google Play Store and was the most popular social networking app and top free app on App store, beating Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

Bondee is the first of Metadream’s planned creative metaverse products. Metadream acquired the intellectual property rights to the app, the parent company of China’s viral metaverse social app Zheli in May 2022 and plans to set up regional operations centres in Thailand, the Philippines, and other countries.

While the app is different from existing social apps, the personalisation of avatars is nothing new. We have seen similar games like Habbo Hotel, Animal Crossing and The Sims that have popularised virtual worlds and avatars, created next-level engagement and brought the possibility of digital avatars and their uses to the forefront.

Bondee’s user experience also differs from Meta’s vision of the metaverse in that it requires much less hardware and processing power – anyone with a smartphone can access the app.

Recently, conversations about blockchain, NFTs and Web 3.0 are growing, and we are seeing increasing receptivity to these emerging trends. In this context, Bondee is yet another experimentation in progress. Bondee taps on the power of AI to build use cases such as the blockchain-based wallet that users can create to purchase NFT products via Bondee’s virtual money B-beans.

As we continue to explore the evolution of social networks of the future, the "avatar"-isation of users seems to be a recurring theme – whether it is through a miniature meta-version of Bondee or something that is more advanced like the Meta's vision.

At this early stage, Bondee is focused on improving user experience and growing their user base. However, in the near future, it is not difficult to imagine that brands will offer customised experiences, spaces and accessories – or even engaging directly with users through virtual sales and office spaces.

What are your thoughts? Are you or your brand planning to interact with the world via an avatar? Let us know.

Joyce Chin is a senior account executive in Singapore; Ian Lee is an associate director in Singapore