In this article:
- Cryptocurrency: What is that, and what does it have to do with messaging?
- Meta’s plans for Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
- Apple’s cryptocurrency plans
- WeChat’s cryptocurrency plans
- Kakao’s cryptocurrency “Klay”
- Viber’s cryptocurrency plans
- Telegram launches Toncoin transactions
- Signal’s cryptocurrency plans
- Status’ crypto messenger app
- What's the future of crypto messaging apps, and should you care?
Cryptocurrency and messaging apps are a perfect combination. At least, that’s what a lot of companies that run messenger apps think. Some apps, such as Signal or Telegram, have already rolled out their first cryptos for users. How does that work, and what is the current status of introducing cryptocurrencies on different messaging apps around the world? An overview.
Imagine you are just finishing up your online gym class with your personal trainer on WhatsApp. After the class, you send them a thank you note in your chat, and, in the same chat, also pay them for the class — using a cryptocurrency.
This is not a reality yet, but it could be in the very near future. From Apple to Telegram to Viber, a lot of messenger companies are currently looking at introducing cryptocurrencies on their apps, and some first movers have already rolled out crypto payments for their users. How does that work exactly? Is this a good idea? And what messaging apps are already using cryptocurrencies? We sum up the most important facts, and show you what messenger apps around the world are offering.
Cryptocurrency: What is that, and what does it have to do with messaging?
Simply put, a cryptocurrency is a digital currency or medium of exchange that is transferred through computers. As the name implies, cryptocurrencies (also known as cryptos) are protected by cryptography, which makes it basically impossible to hack, counterfeit or manipulate payments.
Unlike regular (fiat) currencies, such as U.S. dollars or Euros, cryptos are not controlled by a central institution like a bank, which means, in theory, that they can’t be manipulated by governments. Instead, they run on decentralized networks based on the blockchain technology.
How does the blockchain work?
The blockchain is basically an online ledger that keeps track of transactions in the whole network of a specific cryptocurrency. It can be best visualized as a chain of blocks. Every block holds information about a set of transactions. Each block’s information is connected and verified by the two blocks next to it in the chain.
If a new block is added, the information of this particular block has to be first verified independently by all nodes in the network through specific mathematical methods. Only then can it be added to the existing chain. This makes it impossible to forge transactions on the blockchain, which makes the blockchain both transparent and secure.
Of course, you can have all sorts of transactions on a blockchain, but because of its safety, it is the technology of choice for trading cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum (the two largest currencies).
For trading cryptos, both sides need a (digital) wallet. In order to transfer, for example, Bitcoins from one person to another, a person opens their wallet, chooses a public address of someone else’s wallet, sets the amount they want to send, and then hits “send”. After the transaction is verified on the blockchain, the other person will receive the tokens.
A natural evolution of this process is to set it entirely on a messaging app. Why? Because that is where most people nowadays decide to manage most of their digital processes.
Cryptocurrency and messaging apps: A match made in digital heaven?
The massive use of messaging apps becomes apparent when compared to the total number of internet users around the world. As of April 2022, five billion people around the world use the internet. In comparison, roughly three billion users are active on mobile messaging apps. In other words: most people that use the internet, are also messaging.
In an interesting development, people are not just chatting with friends and family on WhatsApp, iMessage, or WeChat anymore. They are also looking for information, read news, and look for shopping inspiration.