Online dating giants are set to offer digital health passports to millions of UK singletons to prove they are free of coronavirus.
Manchester-based cyber firm VST Enterprises (VSTE), is pioneering technology which it says can be used to safeguard daters when coronavirus restrictions are eased.
The company says it has been approached for its digital health passports by several leading dating app companies.
Tinder and Grindr are believed to be two of the dating apps that are waiting to launch them.
The technology, called ‘VCode’, would enable a doctor or nurse to upload the results of a government-approved Covid-19 test to the digital health passport.
The passport would be linked to the user’s dating profile.
VSTE chief executive Louis-James Davis, right, believes digital health passports would allow singletons to date ‘safely’. He said: ‘The idea is that you could send your VCode in advance to sign off your health status’
Tinder and Grindr are two apps understood to be interested in the proposal
The digital health passport would also feature a countdown ‘traffic light’ timer to highlight when the dater needs another test.
Daters would be able to scan each other’s virus status from up to 320 feet away, using the app on their phones.
VSTE expects doctors, nurses and qualified professionals to upload the test result to the health passport after downloading the free app.
It said the dating platforms could work with a healthcare provider to help oversee the tests – either antibody tests, proving whether someone has had the virus, or antigen tests, which show current infections – and ensure results are uploaded to the passport correctly.
The VCode does not track the movement of people – safeguarding ‘their privacy, protection and settings’ on the dating apps, says the company.
It also has military-grade encryption with more than 2.2 Quintilian combination codes to make it ‘literally unhackable’.
Security permissions are placed on the code to ensure only certain parties can access the information.
A company spokesperson added that VCode will be ‘a game-changer’ for apps like Tinder and Grindr when social-distancing restrictions are relaxed.
‘The technology is absolutely perfect for the online dating market. It would give a greater level of protection and reassurance for both female and male daters,’ VSTE said.
VSTE also believes that VCode technology could be included in the sign-up process, which checks the authenticity of a person when they join a dating site.
Nick Crawford, 23, said he and an unidentified woman went out for the first time on March 7, and within days, both were experiencing flu-like symptoms
The couple apparently hit it off, though, and have continued to see each other
During lockdown, Tinder, like other dating app heavyweights, has reported a huge surge in activity.
Latest Tinder data shows that daily conversations on the app in the UK have shot up by 12 per cent and globally there were more than 3 billion ‘swipes’ between profiles on one day – March 29 – the highest number since the app’s launch in 2012.
One example of coronavirus dating casualty is Nick Crawford and his unnamed lover, who met through dating app Hinge.
Days after their bar crawl in Brooklyn, New York, on March 7 – two weeks before the ‘stay-at-home’ order was imposed on the city – the loved-up couple started displaying flu-like symptoms.
A month after their first date, Crawford tweeted: ‘Oops looks like I caught more than feelings during this pandemic.’
Crawford told the US-based online site MarketWatch that he was urged to self-isolate by a doctor, who suspected he had Covid-19.
VSTE chief executive and founder, Louis-James Davis, believes digital health passports would allow singletons to date ‘safely’.
He said: ‘The idea is that you could send your VCode in advance to sign off your health status. You could have a date safely.
‘What happens after the date is up to the people themselves.’
Grindr is also believed to be considering bringing in coronavirus passports for its users
Senior government officials, racing to develop a coronavirus contact-tracing app, are also in ‘advanced’ discussions with VSTE about using its technology.
‘We had discussions with the Home Office way before the coronavirus outbreak,’ Davis added. ‘We have been on the radar for other things like tax and excise charges at the borders. It is not a new thing for us to be involved with government departments.’
VSTE confirmed it planned to carry out eight UK trials – five in England and three in Scotland – to test VCode technology and the digital health passports.
More than 50 million digital health passports, called Covi-Pass and featuring VSTE’s VCode technology, are already being sold to more than 15 countries, including Italy, France, Spain and the US. They are being used to highlight coronavirus test history and other health information.
Former sports minister ex-Labour MP Richard Caborn thinks the VCode passport would be a bonus for Premier League stars as they return to training ahead of starting games next month.
He is backing the introduction of the technology so the sportsmen can prove if they have the virus or not.