Michael Wallis-Brown is founder and CEO of the BAIA Group explores how signal, telegram, and the war in Ukraine are fuelling The Information Revolution.
Putin’s move to block social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and TikTok, has seen Ukrainians and Russians turn to the humble chat app to communicate securely and obtain up to date news feeds. The consequential impact has seen messaging apps like Telegram and Signal in Ukraine spike. In Eastern Europe, Telegram is proving the most popular of these platforms — just last summer it hit 1 billion downloads, with Russians being the second-most-frequent users in the world.
It’s not an uncommon occurrence to see technology used during conflict cross over to mainstream usage. In fact, long before the internet became available for public use it was initially developed for defence purposes. The uptick in messaging platform usage we predict will follow the same trend and really is the start of the Information Revolution.
The development of messaging apps like Telegram and Signal put users in control: as opposed to the viral messaging popular with social media apps, users can choose who they want to receive information from, as well as which groups they want to join. Accusations that they’re not secure are unfounded as these groups can be made private and encrypted with the ‘Secret chat’ feature which encrypts the message or messaging group end to end.
Both these messaging apps are seeing a significant uplift in usage, and they’re already reaching the mainstream in northern Europe. Because trust and security is so important, “face to face” word of mouth is a factor in the rise in numbers using these platforms and whilst it might sound like an old-fashioned way of growing a platform, things have come full circle. What’s happened very quickly is the power of the network effect and the trusted social graph, as people form “invite only” trusted groups using messaging as messaging is as close as one gets to “face to face trust”.
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Telegram is one of many chat platforms we use at Baia to support the growing commerce landscape as it is an open-source development environment that allows for the development of innovative commerce tools and applications. At Baia, we have maximised this messaging development environment and connected it to our optimisation technology core to create a collaborative commerce platform powered by a unique messaging interface.
The solution enables data capture and tracking across the whole supply chain of agents, goods, services, assets, and value (e.g., we notorise cash transactions); supporting agents, buyers, and sellers alike to master their market with deeper insights into information or opportunities to smartly connect and safely transact. Messaging is people’s lifeblood in many of these countries and we are seeing more and more businesses connect with their customers in chat apps, as well as forming trusted groups. The chat commerce market has seen significant growth over the last few years with 7.7 billion users compared to 4.7 billion internet users.
The combination of Telegram’s features and developer environment leads to a richer experience above other messaging Apps, including the ‘secret chat’ function as well as participation in wider group chats. Signal also offers encryption for secret chats but lacks the features that users are exploiting on Telegram to great effect. Both have a place, and each might be installed on a user’s device but used in different ways that don’t necessarily overlap. More importantly these rich features are becoming “must haves’ for businesses who are looking to connect, communicate and co-ordinate, in a more personal and trusted way, with existing and new customers, simply by using a message. Baia is leading this revolution: we call it the FinText Revolution.
Out of the many messaging applications available, Telegram is best positioned to support commerce in the future beyond the typical use of relying on advertising which can be invasive, and we see on other chat apps like WhatsApp. But all in all, we are seeing a big revolution in information exchange through how people are messaging and communicating with each other. Where there is crisis there is opportunity and some of the best technologies come out of technology developed for defence purposes and Telegram looks like it could be one of these as it is the app that can’t be shut down by Putin.
About Michael Wallis-Brown
Michael Wallis-Brown is founder and CEO of the BAIA Group, which helps SMEs, independent traders and large corporations operate securely and flourish in the cash economy through its optimisation and mobile messaging platform. Working in emerging and frontier markets such as Kenya and Bangladesh, BAIA uses the latest messaging technology including Telegram to ensure that transactions can take place transparently and safely.