After the alleged Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal, people are getting increasingly concerned regarding the malicious use of their personal data. This reflection has led many to have second thoughts about being active on social media, and the search for alternative social networks (and ‘Delete Facebook’) has spiked up. The search has proved to be a boost for already-existing decentralized social networks, that claim to be fundamentally more secure than Facebook and Twitter. At the same time, dedicated decentralized messaging services have also benefited.
Therefore, such revelations have gathered special attention towards initiatives like e-Chat. e-Chat is a blockchain-based decentralized messenger and “the fastest growing social network”. It uses peer-to-peer (p2p) protocols based on the blockchain, for instant text messaging. For transferring binary files, like photos and documents, e-Chat will employ the Interplanetary File Transfer protocol, which is the full form for IPFS. Even IPFS itself is a blockchain technology, so e-Chat seems to exploit the benefits of blockchain pretty well. Since this is decentralized messaging, e-Chat can even utilize other benefits of redundancy, like backups. If the chat history on a given device (or node, to be a little more technical) is deleted, it can be reconstructed using the neighboring peers’ chat histories involving that node. However, it should be noted that this benefit isn’t exclusive to decentralized messaging services – even WhatsApp, that is based on more of a client-server architecture (i.e., centralized), can use a similar technique to offer chat reconstruction to its users. But e-Chat has more to offer than just replicate the functionality of popular message services, with a different implementation. Most people don’t care as much about the implementation as they do about the interface. The Hong Kong-based messenger service’s interface is quite intuitive, which can be seen on e-Chat’s official website.
On top of that, there are numerous other functionalities that e-Chat aims to provide. Their team is planning to embed a multi-currency crypto wallet that can be used for easy money transfers. What’s more – this wallet works on its own and cannot be monitored. Another feature – and this is quite good for critical connectivity – is that e-Chat cannot be “banned”, and so it can theoretically work all over the world. This is simply because e-Chat is decentralized, so there isn’t really a “switch” that can shut down the e-Chat network entirely in a region. Other features include photo and video streaming, news feed streaming, QR scans – all through a blockchain based network.
Furthermore, e-Chat is not only an instant messaging service, it is a fully-fledged social network (with a lot of emphasis on p2p messaging, to be fair). As stated on e-Chat’s investors website, it “is not just an instant messenger, it is a platform for solving everyday problems, developed on the basis of blockchain technology”. One can do all the things on e-Chat that she is able to do on services like Instagram and Snapchat. It also supports video calling and conferencing. A core feature of the e-Chat social network is the “Cryptolike”: this is essentially a monetisation of content likes. People can tip content creators with money, and in this way content creators can monetize their creations. They no longer need sponsors or advertisements for generating value out of their content.
So, will e-Chat be the next big thing? The chances of that happening soon are slim, as the service only has its alpha version ready as of this writing. Yes, it is expanding its reach and services and funding, but the implementation should happen in the right way for e-Chat to make its mark. This is because the social networking market is under tough competition these days, which is evident from consistent online promotions of social networking startups. And, above all, even with a pace that is tagged as “the fastest growing”, e-Chat can take years to get to the size where it can be weighed against Facebook, given the giant’s monolithic user base.
Saurabh Chaturvedi is a freelance developer and technical writer with a keen interest in blockchain, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
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