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Telebit Introduces 50 Million Telegram Users to Bitcoin

Op-ed - Telebit Introduces 50 Million Telegram Users to Bitcoin

Announced on Twitter on February 11, 2015, Telebit started to gain traction earlier today.

Telegram is an instant messaging app for smartphones, tablets and the web. Similar to Whatsapp, the popular instant messaging app acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, Telegram offers better privacy and security, as well as an open protocol and API.These features have gained Telegram 50 million faithful users.

A Bitcoin wallet integrated with Telegram, Telebit allows bitcoin to be exchanged among other Telegram users as well as external bitcoin addresses.

“The [Telebit] system has been live for 2 weeks now, and we are now satisfied with its feature set and stability,” reads today’s announcement on the Bitcointalk forum. “Telebit leverages the Telegram messenger app itself which is well known, tested and available on pretty much every device.”

With Telebit, all Telegram users have an instant, easy-to-use Bitcoin wallet. To start using the service, search for Telebit on Telegram and send the message “wallet.”Telebit will send back your Bitcoin address as both an alphanumeric string and a machine-readable QR code, with a welcome gift of 0.00025 bitcoin. You can send a deposit to your new wallet, and send bitcoin to other Telegram users or any external Bitcoin address with a simple text message to Telebit. See the Telebit website for a list of Telebit commands, or send the query “help” via Telegram.

Like other online wallets, Telebit wallets are stored in the cloud, so it’s not recommended that you use Telebit for receiving or storing large sums. Rather, Telebit is a portable wallet that you can carry on your smartphone and load with the bitcoin that you expect to spend in the short term – just like cash in a physical wallet.

What happens if you didn’t put enough money in your Telebit wallet this morning, and now you don’t have enough to buy a beer? Just ask a friend on Telegram to send you some bitcoin.

Bitcoin transfers to other Telebit accounts are instantly processed off-chain with no transaction fees. Transfers to an external Bitcoin address, to be processed by the block chain, can be initiated with a text command. Users can set a limit to the amount of bitcoin they wish to hold in a Telebit wallet, and automatically forward overflows to an external Bitcoin address.

Telebit is the brainchild of Eric Goforth and Jonathan Harrison. A couple of weeks ago the latter left his previous venture SatoshiPoint to “concentrate on [his] stealth btc project.”

Telebit has could be a game changer. The recent history of the Internet shows that momentous things begin to happen when online services reach a critical degree of simple usability, and Telebit makes handling bitcoin as simple as sending a text message.

Now imagine a hypothetical service similar to Telebit but built on Whatsapp, owned by Facbook, which has more than 600 million users and could eventually be integrated with Facebook’s messaging system. That would be a real game-changer: all Facebook users would have a Bitcoin wallet and easy one-click access to bitcoin transactions.

Telegram is not as popular as Whatsapp – yet. But it is growing very fast, and it seems a prime target for acquisition by a major Internet company. If that happens, the impact on the Bitcoin economy will be profound.

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