Wiper, a free messaging app that features the ability to instantly erase messages, has integrated a bitcoin wallet. The ability for users to send and receive bitcoin makes Wiper the first messaging app to integrate cryptocurrency, according to CEO Manlio Carrelli.
“Payments make a lot of sense in a messenger”
He points to Snapchat’s integration of Square as a mobile messaging service that offers payment capability. That service, called Snapcash, requires both parties to the transaction to have an account with a financial institution such as a bank or a debit card company. Wiper, on the other hand, allows users to use bitcoin. Carelli continued:
“We’re interested in the huge pool of users that traditionally don’t have access to the payment systems,”
Wiper Inc., based in New York City, launched its mobile messaging service to the public this past June, offering users the ability to control how long their messages remain in the messaging system. To ensure privacy, calls are encrypted, and there is no call log. Users can instantly erase messages. Other features control how long messages remain. Wiper alerts the user when a friend snaps a screenshot or forwards a photo or video.
Carrelli said Wiper saw control over messages as a key advantage, and the 10 million Wiper app downloads to date stand as testament to this benefit.
“It’s not to your advantage for that stuff to exist (for others to be able to recover)”
Because users of mobile messaging services previously had no control over how long a message exists for someone else to see, many people have been less inclined to use mobile messaging. With Wiper, they gain the ability to erase the message when they want to. “The ability to speak your mind in text is super, super important,” he said.
Wiper saw cryptocurrency as a natural add-on to the messaging service. Users can conduct financial transactions quickly, globally and inexpensively. By activating the bitcoin function with a couple of taps, users have a secure bitcoin wallet they can use. Users can send and receive bitcoin outside of Wiper through public keys or a QR code. Users can view their bitcoin transaction history and wallet balance.
“It is a simple, intuitive way to introduce better financial tools to the 2.5 billion folks who don’t have access to traditional financial tools,” Carrelli said.
“Take sending money back home. What more logical place to do so than in a messenger, where you already talk and share information — where the user interface is familiar to anyone who has ever used a smartphone? With our approach, sending money is as simple as sending a photo. Neither side requires a bank account or debit card. The transaction is near instant, versus taking days to clear. And traditional fees — 10 percent in many cases for wiring international — are leveled to fractions of a penny. It’s an incredibly compelling value proposition, and we’re just getting start with the simplicity we can bring to the entire experience. The integrated wallet and send/receive are just the foundation.”
“Bitcoin and wiper go hand in hand,”
Kevin Raposo, a spokesman for Wiper, said. “They share the same principle in terms of privacy.”
Wiper uses a “deterministic key” to secure bitcoin user accounts. When a user signs up for bitcoin, a randomly generated passphrase identifies their bitcoin account. Wiper instructs the user to write down this string of characters so they can have access to their bitcoin wallet if they misplace or lose their smartphone. Users who lose, damage or replace their smartphone can restore their Wiper bitcoin wallet using a special backup phrase.
“We don’t have a single point of vulnerability,” Carrelli said for Wiper’s bitcoin wallet.
“We’re trying to make bitcoin easy for the average person,”
Wiper announced its bitcoin wallet a month ago. Carrelli said he doesn’t have numbers on how many users have activated bitcoin, but he said there have been more than expected. “People are using it,” he said, noting the bitcoin response has been especially strong in Asia.
Wiper is considering integrating other cryptocurrencies besides bitcoin, Manlio noted.
Going forward, Wiper will examine other functionalities such as allowing bitcoin users to convert bitcoin into local currencies.
The Wiper download is free as the company builds its user base. The company could charge for premium features in the future. “They’re trying to build their user base for a year before they charge for any features,” Raposo said.
Wiper is owned by Michael Choupak, who also founded Intermedia, a cloud-based email service.