If you’re at least somewhat familiar with cryptocurrency, you’ve probably heard of Telegram before.
But what is it? And why are businesses so crazy about it?
Telegram is an instant messaging service very similar to WhatsApp or Viber. But unlike its counterparts, Telegram is cloud-based, and it has made a name for itself for being the safest communication platform available to the public.
The platform was released in August 2013, and by March 2014 it reached its first milestone. It had 15 million daily users, that were sending 8 billion messages a month.
In 2015, its user base had reached 62M daily users.
In March 2018 the company announced that it had reached 200M Monthly users and aims to reach 1 Billion users in 2022.
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Telegram vs WhatsApp
Despite its growth, it’s no secret that WhatsApp has a much larger user base than Telegram. However, in the future, the tables might turn. Many predict that Telegram will eventually surpass WhatsApp, due to its increased security but also due to the everso decreasing trust that people put in Facebook Inc., the parent company of WhatsApp.
But let’s look at the data.
Taking into consideration a 49-month period, we can see that Telegram had a 571.24% growth in user base, from 35 million monthly users in March 2014 to 200 million in March 2018. That averages to a growth of 11.65% per month.
Over a period of 69 months, between February 2014 and October 2019, WhatsApp had a growth of 344.09% growth in user base, from 465 million to 1.6 billion, meaning an average growth of 4.98% per month.
It definitely looks like Telegram is growing twice as much as WhatsApp. But let’s not jump to conclusions.
It’s a known fact that growth rate slows down as size increases, and being the giant that it is, it would be nearly impossible for WhatsApp to match the growth rate of Telegram. In 2019 there were around 4.4 billion internet users. That means that WhatsApp is at 36.4% of its maximum possible audience, while Telegram is barely at the 4.55% mark.
Yet while the growth of WhatsApp is supported by Facebook, Telegram doesn’t really have any social media giant to help it grow.
Moreso, WhatsApp’s revenue model is quite unclear to the public, being free to use and free of ads. People suspect it’s sharing user data with Facebook.
On the other hand Telegram’s revenue model is quite transparent. The app is free of ads or any other form of payment. They rely solely on donations. Pavel Durov, the app’s owner, declared that Telegram wasn’t created for profit and that he doesn’t have any plans of selling it in the future.
Since September 2019, funding is 100% privately generated by Pavel Durov.
In my opinion, it is simply too soon to claim whether or not Telegram will replace WhatsApp in the future. But one thing that I am certain of is that Telegram is well on its path to success.
But why do people love Telegram so much?
One of its most beloved features is its insane security. The app provides its users with a Secret Chat feature, which encrypts end-to-end communications, deletes the messages as soon as they are read, and doesn’t store them anywhere in its servers.
But its high accent on privacy also brought it large several governmental issues. The Russian & American governments criticized the app several times, and in April 2018 the Russian government banned it altogether.
Telegram and the crypto industry
While major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Snapchat were banning ICOs and everything related to cryptocurrency, Telegram seized the opportunity and open its doors to them. The increased security of the platform and the reliable communication drove many ICOs on Telegram. Businesses did not only create communication channels but communities.
Telegram supports supergroups of up to 100,000 people, and soon enough every ICO created its group or supergroup, where it engaged directly with its fanbase.
In the beginning, in order to attract people, businesses offered incentives for people who joined their Telegram channel. Oftentimes they would organize giveaways or offer discounts, and this helped increase their community while also turned more people to the platform.
And cryptocurrencies didn’t just get left behind.
Many altcoins created their own Telegram groups, where they could receive feedback and talk directly to its users. This significantly impacted the development course for ICOs, cryptocurrencies, and the whole crypto industry.
By 2017, businesses were hiring community managers whose sole purpose was to create and expand their Telegram channels.
And like this, every crypto enthusiast quickly became a member of at least one Telegram community.
Besides giving a secure medium of communication to the crypto world, the company came in with its own cryptocurrency. In 2018, Telegram launched an ICO for the TON coin which generated $1.7 billion from qualified investors.
For the past couple of years, Telegram has been silently growing together with the crypto industry. And it doesn’t show signs of stopping.
The Russian government recently banned the app, but this only goes to show that its founder won’t back down from providing top-notch security for its users.