The rise of Telegram is one of the most exciting things in the mobile app environment in recent years.
Slowly but surely, it is turning into a worldwide mega app – modeled in part on the success of China’s WeChat – and the first to be neither shackled by Beijing regulations nor the Silicon Valley ideological bend.
Far from being just a messaging app, Telegram is gradually moving into other areas of life and clearly has the ambition to become the default platform for many or all individual and professional needs.
Just yesterday (April 28), the company released another major update that shows a desire for deeper entry into e-commerce and digital payments, which could ultimately bring in significant revenue.
Telegram introduces payments 2.0
With Payments 2.0, Telegram allows merchants to accept payments using several approved access passes – including the very popular Strip – that effectively cover over 200 jurisdictions around the world (i.e., entire planets).
The feature was previously available via bots, which was a bit awkward. You had to create a separate bot for customers to interact with, but payments can now be used directly in all chats, channels, and groups.
This is a great improvement in functionality, as it allows sales directly during communication with followers.
If you want, you can create your own simple e-commerce store in Telegram, presenting products and allowing customers to buy them directly in the application – both on mobile and on PC.
Business owners can now build followers on Telegram, communicate directly with fans, present their products and offer direct billing – all within one app.
As a result, Telegram can effectively replace direct marketing tools (such as email), live chats, social media accounts, customer support, and e-commerce storefronts. It doesn’t even charge a fee for its services – the only fees you’ll pay are those set by your payment processor.
But of course, it is not yet as robust as a stand-alone store. Customizations are limited and won’t work very well for large stores, as displaying dozens or hundreds of products would be difficult.
But big stores don’t really need these features anyway. Small retailers benefit the most from this, not least because the app and its features are completely free.
In short, Telegram is now a platform where you can:
- Share content and links with followers.
- Organize groups where fans can interact with you and each other.
- Contact them via push notifications in the app they see on their phones.
- Provide customer support.
- Introduce your products and services.
- Sell them, send invoices and collect payments directly in the app using the desired gateway, anywhere in the world.
How to start using new features
I know you might itch to try it, but the technical part isn’t quite that easy for laymen and will take a little effort.
However, I have continued to simplify this into a short list of steps you need to take (unfortunately, you may need some more help):
- You will first need to create your own Telegram bot, which is responsible for all payment mechanics. You do this by going to BotFather and following the instructions in the Telegram application.
- Using the same tool, you’ll choose your payment gateway – where you already need to have an account – and just type in the necessary commands within BotFather.
- Here’s where it gets technically. To actually add products to Telegram, you will need a programmer to write you a bot or use an existing one prepared by someone else. This can also be obtained in the form of an add-on for your site, if you have one, e.g. Launched on Woocommerce. In this way, your products can be automatically imported into Telegram.
Unfortunately, there is currently no simple tool for creating Telegram bots; but it can change over time, given how quickly the app continues to add features.
Ultimately, As a retailer, your benefits are immeasurable:
- Save on marketing / CRM costs – because you can communicate with fans / customers for free, directly.
- You save on customer support solutions – using Telegram to process queries is also free.
- Save on hosting costs – because your store and your entire community can live entirely or mostly within Telegram.
- You save on payment processing costs – because e-commerce service providers (like Shopify) or donation services (like Patreon) usually add a commission on top of what network entries charge.
Companies of all sizes will find something useful on the platform.
The shopping features will make it a charm for all small business owners, and creators of all kinds – bloggers, artists, YouTubers, podcasters and so on – can use them to collect donations, sell fan equipment, top access to content and so on.
If you really wanted to, you could build an entire business just on Telegram and never leave the app.
Beware, this is just one part of the update it has also added useful new features such as scheduled voice chats – a great thing for both companies planning meetings and popular figures inviting fans to join the live show.
As if that wasn’t enough, Pavel Durov did announced that the next update, coming in May, will add robust new video features to Telegram calls, effectively taking over Zoom and other teleconferencing apps that have seen a sharp rise in popularity during the pandemic.
The amazing thing about all of these events is that there really isn’t anyone who wants to compete with Telegram regarding these features.
Will other messaging apps respond?
Unlike Chinese WeChat developers, Westerners are usually reluctant to combine too many features into one product. And since WeChat is unlikely to be a competitor outside Asia, given global distrust of Chinese apps, Telegram is currently the only candidate for it.
WhatsApp or Signal could potentially cope with the challenge, but the latter is currently just a messaging app, and the former is owned by Facebook, which is unlikely to use it to cannibalize its own business by adding features that millions of companies already pay for on their own. main platform.
It would also require a review of his privacy, allowing users to – at the very least – hide their phone numbers before anyone is willing to communicate with strangers.
Telegram offers the best of all worlds – enough security, privacy and corporate independence that can be trusted, enough simplicity for widespread use and enough robustness to be a real competitor to existing, often expensive solutions.
It takes Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Zoom, and bites e-commerce as well.
And the best thing is that this is still just the beginning because new features are added every few months. As such, it makes sense to immediately start investing your time in the platform.
Credits for prominent paintings: Dado Ruvić via Reuters