Telegram’s “superapp” opens up stores

👩🏻 It’s time for our Mobile Business column with Jérôme Bouteiller, founder of Screen Mobile, who for the last column of the season decided to tell us about Telegram, a “Super App” that opens up businesses with big ambitions

🧔🏻 Hi Delphine. Yes, you have already talked several times about Telegram, especially from a security angle, but today I wanted to talk about the business shift that this application has taken.

As a reminder, Telegram is an instant messenger born in Russia in 2013 on the initiative of Pavel Durov, who was the originator of Vkontakte, the Russian Facebook. But after disagreements with the Kremlin, Durov had to sell his shares in Vkontakte for more than $ 300 million before leaving Russia to start over with Telegram.

In a few years, this messaging service has enjoyed extraordinary success since crossing the threshold of 700 million monthly active users last month, placing it in the top 10 in the world. 5 most downloaded applications in the world.

Speaking of business, what is its business model?

🧔🏻 Until now, there was none. The company has long been fully funded by the funds Pavel Durov obtained during the resale of Vkontakte.

Last year, however, Telegram tried to raise funds in the form of an ICO with the launch of its own cryptocurrency, Gram. But the operation did not go very well, and the company was even sentenced to pay a fine of several million dollars to the “Security Exchange Commission”, the American police officer for financial traders.

In the last few weeks, Telegram has nonetheless accelerated revenue generation with a dual model that combines a paid application and services for businesses.

👩🏻 Telegram gets paid?

🧔🏻 Yes, the announcement took place in early June by Pavel Durov himself, with the launch of Telegram Premium, an application that is billed at 5.5 euros per. month and per. user.

For this price, Telegram users get unlimited bandwidth, the ability to send files up to 4 GB, the ability to participate in up to 1000 chat channels.

They will also have access to new features such as the absence of commercials, automatic transcription of audio files into text, but also exclusive content such as GIFs, avatars or to stand out on the platform.

According to Pavel Durov, it is enough for 3% of Telegram users, or 20 million people, to choose this premium version to ensure the company’s profitability.

👩🏻 Revenue generation that also involves advertising and e-commerce?

🧔🏻 Yes, because if users of the paid version do not want advertisements, it means that all the others will soon! And it has already started in recent months with discrete insertions in public channels.

But Telegram is also working on other business features such as chatbots, ordering tools, payment and live streaming, to enable companies to sell their products and services on Telegram.

Telegram’s ambition is thus to become a “Super App”, following the Chinese WeChat model, by letting brands cover all their business issues, whether it is acquisitions, trade or customer relationships.

🧔🏻Super app, which Europe is waiting for?

👩🏻 This is my belief. Telegram is a historical Russian application that is now based in Dubai, but whose majority of teams are still based in Europe.

While the continent is torn apart by war in Ukraine, Telegram is probably one of the last digital services where the various warriors can communicate. It is also one of the few platforms that rebroadcasts both Western and Russian media, such as RT.

And with its 700 million users and the billion in sight, Telegram thus appears to be the only platform on the continent capable of standing up to the Chinese or American digital giants.

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