Instant messaging apps are everywhere, with a handful dominating communication across all four corners of the globe. It is that domination that has some users worried. Should major tech companies have access to your private conversations? In some cases, it isn’t just accessed; tech companies monetize private conversation data through advertising.
Privacy? What privacy.
One alternative lies in decentralized messenger apps. Instead of relying on a tech giant to connect you, why not use a peer-to-peer instant messenger to cut out the data gobbling middleman?
Here are five of the best blockchain-based decentralized messaging apps you can use right now.
Dust is a blockchain-based messenger developed by Radical App. The app has a strong focus on privacy and security, with several features devoted to protecting your identity.
One of Dust’s major selling points is the timed message deletion, where your messages self-destruct after a given time (up to 24 hours). Once you delete the message, there is no way to recover it.
The Dust app also comes with anti-screenshot protection, stopping other users easily snapping your conversations. (It doesn’t make it impossible, of course!)
At the time of its launch, Dust received a fair amount of media coverage as Mark Cuban was one of the primary investors.
Sense Chat uses the EOS blockchain to provide a lightning-quick decentralized messenger app. Remember, the EOS blockchain ranks as one of the fastest currently available.
The Sense Chat app features multiple chat channels on any number of topics, peer to peer video chat over the blockchain, and leverages its user’s EOS public keys to create secure, encrypted connections. Sense Chat also allows users to tip content creators and even regular messages for their contributions to chat channels.
“SENSE is building blockchain communication tools for everyone. We see Sense.Chat being integrated into any EOS dApp with a community. We’re building tools for content creators, community managers, token holders, and game players.”Crystal Rose Pierce, Founder and CEO of SENSE
The Sense Chat app uses basic but secure encryption to verify each message. Sense Chat encrypts every message you send with the public key of the recipient. The public key is stored on the EOS blockchain; therefore, you can verify the sender and recipient addresses at any time. The Sense Chat Encryption Protocol “does not transmit or receive keys from a central server.”
Furthermore, each EOS account is unique because of its linked EOS address. The Sense Chat app takes this unique account approach one step further, stopping accounts using the same name.
The app is more than a simple messenger program. Built atop the Ethereum blockchain, e-Chat can also process Ethereum transactions, and the e-Chat app comes equipped with a multi-coin cryptocurrency wallet.
e-Chat also features a content creation section where users can upload content and create subscription channels. Other users can tip content creators using e-Chat’s native ECHT token, allowing the best creators to profit from their work.
You can also make free group calls using e-Chat, with up to ten people sharing a connection.
Sylo focuses on decentralized messaging and “social Fintech.”
That means the Sylo app is a decentralized messaging app with an integrated cryptocurrency wallet, among other things. Sylo has a strong focus on privacy, too. Each conversation uses Sylo’s Decentralized Signalling “to establish encrypted P2P connections on demand.”
One interesting feature is Sylo Storage, a decentralized storage network you access through the app. The Sylo Storage network is currently provided by companies already connected to the Sylo network. That will change in the future as more companies and even users can contribute additional storage to the network. Those that contribute storage earn Sylo tokens.
Like other decentralized messaging apps, Sylo comes with a host of DApps, and all built using the Sylo Protocol. The Sylo app is comprehensive, covering payments, communications, apps, and much more. You can also use Sylo tokens (SYLOs) to unlock additional services and features, access and store content using Sylo Storage, process DApp activities, and so on. Find out more about decentralized apps in our short DApp explainer.
The cutely named BeeChat is a South Korean messaging app that uses blockchain technology to secure your communications. BeeChat also includes an ecosystem of blockchain-based apps.
Interestingly, the blockchain apps come from both Ethereum and EOS. That’s because BeeChat is cross-chain compatible.
BeeChat has some Telegram-like community-building features, too. For example, you can host a chat with up to 30,000 users, making use of the messaging and video chat features. Users can connect with “Key Opinion Leaders” in each community, sharing and discussing cryptocurrency, blockchain, and other technologies.
It is an interesting cross-section of blockchain apps, a messaging app, and a cryptocurrency wallet. However, the user numbers touted on many sites are surprising.
For instance, Korean site, The Investor, states that “Since the service went live in October , BeeChat has signed up 20 million users.” Which would be a phenomenal number for a blockchain-based messaging app whose primary market is South Korea. Consider that Coinbase, the primary on-ramp for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency users, has around 14 million users, and you see the issue with this “20 million” figure.
Not to knock BeeChat, as it is a blockchain messaging app with some potential. Just don’t be fooled by the expansive marketing figures.
Are Decentralized Messaging Apps Any Good?
Decentralized messaging apps are gathering pace. Not just in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, but for “regular” messaging app users, too. The number of regular apps that shut-down overnight leaves users wondering which app will disappear next.
For others, the control that the major tech companies exert over personal communication means a decentralized alternative is fast becoming the only option. Attacks from tech companies and governments on messengers using encryption to protect user data are becoming all-too-frequent. And when that happens, truly secure alternatives like these decentralized messaging apps are waiting in the wings.
If you want to increase your privacy further, why not check out some of the most private cryptocurrencies you can use today!
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