Americans are expected to spend nearly $20 billion on Valentine's Day this year, including on virtual dating services.

New research from Earnest, an alternative lending firm based in San Francisco, Calif., shows that those living on the West Coast are 55 percent more likely to pay for a dating service. Overall, nearly 10 percent of those surveyed said they paid for a dating app, with Match, OkCupid and E-Harmony edging out Tinder as go-to romance resources. 

Earnest analyzed transactions from more than 30,000 loan applicants to conduct the study. The startup, which provides personal loans and student loan re-financing, originated more than $400 million in loans last year, and projects doing $1 billion by June.

Applicants typically come to Earnest for its savvy underwriting algorithm -- which considers many factors beyond a simple credit score, such as income, cash flow and retirement savings -- and so it claims to serve more traditionally risky clients. The fixed interest rates range from 3.5 to 7 percent, with variable rates starting at 1.9 percent.

Still, Earnest clients are typically making a steady income, with enough savings to pay off regular expenses for at least one month, which could skew the research.  

Of note, the study found that men were 16 percent more likely to pay for a dating app than women, in keeping with analyst expectations for Valentine's Day this year. Men are projected to spend nearly double what women will spend ($190.53, compared to $96.58 on average), according to the National Retail Federation.

"Historically, men have spent more on Valentine's Day than women, by about a 2:1 ratio," noted Mathew S. Isaac, an assistant professor of marketing at the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University, in a recent WalletHub report. 

"However, women are more likely to spend not only on their significant others, but on other family members, friends, and pets," he explained. 

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