A picture may speak 1,000 words, but for some, an emoji is the true language of love.  

Just ask Victor Quek, a 29-year-old doctor in Malaysia, who spent three months wooing school teacher Sherlina with flowers, chocolate and other flirty emojis — all before he ever met her in person. Charmed, she began sending him amorous emojis back. The two are now married.

The emoji exchange took place on a dating app popular in Asia, Paktor, that lets users pay to send one another  emoji “gifts.” If you like someone on the site, you might pay up to $30 (that’s the cost to send a single digital engagement ring) to send a single emoji. That’s in addition to the $23 monthly subscription fee that diehard Romeos pony up.

The app was created by Joseph Phua, a Singaporean entrepreneur, who discovered Tinder while studying at the University of Chicago. While Tinder is available in Singapore, he quickly realized that there was room for something targeted at an audience not used to online dating — but comfortable communicating via emoji. Indeed, the emojis are primarily used as icebreakers since “unlike the West, people here have trouble with pickup lines,” says Ng Jing Shen, Paktor’s co-founder and chief technology officer.

The apps’ 20 million users send one another roughly 1.8 million virtual gifts each month, which go far beyond the traditional hearts and flowers into fire-breathing dragons and Superman-themed briefs. If you’re trying to save money, you can just text other users, but virtual gift senders receive a higher rate of response, says Ng.

Larissa Tan, a 27-year-old marketing manager in Singapore who spends about 30 minutes a day on Paktor. “I’m definitely more likely to respond if it’s a very expensive graphic gift,” says Tan, who was excited to recently receive an engagement ring emoji. “It’s quite nice to see what each person gives and that makes it more unique than other apps.”

Playing matchmaker has paid off richly for the founders of Paktor, which recently raised $32.5 million in funding. And the road ahead looks, well, interesting: Paktor recently acquired Down, a U.S. app whose name nods to its explicit facilitation of hookups, and Goodnight, a no-photo Taiwanese dating app that matches users who find each other’s voice attractive.