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Swedish students swipe into dating app scene

Two student friends are attempting to take on Tinder with a dating app designed for shy yet tech-savvy Swedes. But they're facing tough competition from a range of other new options for people seeking sex or relationships in Sweden.

Swedish students swipe into dating app scene
Trice founders Simon Lidén and Oscar Hentschel. Photo: Private
While not everyone using Tinder will be able to identify with Simon Lidén and Oscar Hentschel's experience of “getting hundreds of matches”, the two 23-year-olds' critique of the world's biggest dating app could well sound familiar to people swiping in Sweden.
 
“When we met at business school in 2013, Tinder had just arrived and everyone was using it and loved it. But among all our friends we noticed that while everyone was swiping, people were only actually talking to one or two people,”  Lidén tells The Local.
 
“It felt a bit forced to contact people in text form…not really like a normal conversation.”
 
For anyone who hasn't been on Tinder (although we're betting that if you're under 30 you'll almost have certainly tried it out on a friend's phone if not your own), it offers you the chance to swipe right if you like someone or left if you don't. If you get a match you're able to chat with one another. But as Lidén argues, that might not be as easy as it sounds in a country where small talk is usually kept to the bare minimum and modesty is celebrated.
 
“We are a Swedish team and so we discovered some tendencies specific for users here…We felt that something about the way you communicate [on Tinder] wasn't really right for the Swedish market which is more shy and stiff.”
 
Yet at the same time, the duo found themselves and their friends embracing Snapchat, the social media app that allows users to send photos and videos to followers which disappear after a few seconds, and has a growing user base among technology-loving young Swedes.
 
“We realized that our problem had already been solved,” explains Lidén.
 
Enter 'Trice – Match and Snap!' the pair's startup venture that combines a swiping tool with an interface that also lets you ping pictures and clips to people you match with and use a symbol to alert them when you're out partying (avoiding the standard “out tonight?” message popular among less original Tinder users). Any shared media disappear from the app 24 hours later.
 
 

What the app looks like. Image: Trice
 
“With pictures it's easier to make conversation,” says the former business student.
 
“Say for example you sent me a picture of you in a cool hat or a picture on the beach. It's much easier to chat about your surroundings, like you would if you met someone in real life.”
 
It's a convincing argument and Lidén is frank when he admits he has “no idea” why other photo-based dating apps have yet to take off in Sweden despite the fact that many Tinder users quicky turn to alternative solutions such as Whatsapp or Facebook in order to communicate with their matches using pictures and videos.
 
While he remains tight-lipped about Trice's user base, Lidén says that the new offering has prompted 30,000 swipes since its official launch a week ago and has already caught the eye of at least one so-called “angel investor” who could potentially help finance the project.
 
In the meantime both he and Hentschel are living off the last dregs of their student loans alongside personal savings, having finished their studies in July.
 
But the born-and-bred Stockholmer appears confident that financial rewards will come from developing their idea in “one of the best tech cities in the world”, despite numerous other dating apps also hitting the Swedish market in recent months.
 

Tinder has 50 million global users. Photo: Tsering TopgyalTT
 
Happn, which first caused a stir in France in 2014, arrived in Sweden earlier this year with a tagline of 'find the people you've crossed paths with', which it does by revealing other singles within a 250 metre radius.
 
And earlier this month Swedish clothing brand Björn Borg launched Sprinter, an app designed to help users 'sweat, swipe and socialize' by connecting potential workout buddies but which has quickly been adopted by some users as a new way of seeking out sex with other fitness fans.
 
“Yes, there is Happn and there is also Hinge and Bumble and others,” says Lidén.
 
“There are plenty of rival apps that have taken on the swiping aspect and some of them bring innovation in terms of how you find people, such as through common interests or crossing paths. But there hasn't been this kind of innovation on the communications part. We believe we are the first ones,” he says, referring to Trice's photo and video function.
 
 
Lidén also argues that the plethora of dating options for Generation Y is in fact a “huge plus” in a world where the whole point of signing up to new applications is to meet a wider range of people.
 
“With Facebook and Instagram for example, users want to be where their friends and family are and so the competion [in the social media development market] is hard. But among our friends using dating apps we saw that people sometimes had three or four or five apps. We hope this [dating app] trend will become even bigger so we can be part of it. We don't mind if our users keep Happn as well!” he laughs.
 
Lidén's advice to those testing out any new technologies as a way to flirt or find a new relationship is to “just be yourself” and he's convinced that he and Oscar Hentschel's invention provides the perfect platform for singles in Sweden.
 
“What's really positive about Trice is you can really show your life. If you spend time at home reading books you can share photos of that or you can show pictures of you doing sports. You'll also get a window into someone else's life, without everyone having to describe it in writing. It will be more natural.”
 
With swiping and photo sharing already a huge part of daily routines for so many young Swedes, it doesn't sound like a huge leap. But first this startup's got to be viewed as hot enough to score a heart from those angel investors.
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Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”

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