The rise of Telegram has been one of the most exciting things about the mobile app environment for years.
Slowly but surely, it’s morphing into a global mega app – probably modeled in part on WeChat’s success in China – and the first one that’s not chained by Beijing regulations or the ideological shift in Silicon Valley.
Far from being a simple messaging app, Telegram is gradually evolving into other areas of life and clearly has the ambition to become the default platform for many, if not all, individual and business needs.
Just yesterday (April 28), the company released another major update that shows the desire to go further in e-commerce and digital payments, which could potentially generate significant revenue.
Telegram presents Payments 2.0
With Payments 2.0, Telegram enables merchants to accept payments using multiple approved gateways – including the very popular Stripe – effectively covering over 200 jurisdictions around the world (i.e. the entire planet).
The feature was previously available through bots which was a bit awkward. You needed to create a separate bot that customers would communicate with, but now payments can be used directly across all chats, channels, and groups.
This is a huge increase in functionality, as it enables sales directly when communicating with subscribers.
If you want, you can create your own simple eCommerce store in Telegram, showcasing the products and allowing customers to purchase them right in the app, both on mobile and desktop.
Business owners can now rely on Telegram, communicate directly with fans, showcase their products, and offer direct payment, all in 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 take a commission for its services – the only fees you’re going to pay are those set by your payment processor.
But of course, it’s not yet as robust as a stand-alone store. Customizations are limited and it won’t work very well for very large stores as displaying dozens or hundreds of products would be difficult.
But department stores don’t really need these features anyway. Small sellers will benefit the most, especially because the application and its functions are completely free.
In short, Telegram is now a platform where you can:
- Share content and links with your followers.
- Organize groups where fans can interact with you and with each other.
- Contact them through the in-app push notifications they see on their phones.
- Provide customer support.
- Showcase your products and services.
- Sell them, send invoices and collect payments right in the app using your favorite gateway, anywhere in the world.
How to start using the new features
I know you might want to give it a try, but the technical part isn’t that easy for laymen and is going to take a bit of work.
However, I have gone ahead to simplify it into a short list of steps to follow (alas, some help may still be needed):
- First you will need to create your own Telegram bot, which is responsible for all payment mechanisms. You do this by going to BotFather and following the instructions of the Telegram app.
- Using the same tool, you’ll select your payment gateway – with which you must already have an account – and simply type the necessary commands into BotFather.
- This is where it gets technical. To add products to Telegram, you will need a developer to write a bot for you or use an existing one prepared by someone else. It can also take the form of a plugin on your website, if you have one, for example running on Woocommerce. In this way, your products could be imported into Telegram automatically.
Unfortunately, there is currently no simple tool for creating Telegram bots; but that may change over time, given how quickly the app continues to add functionality.
Ultimately, as a trader, your advantages are immense:
- You save on Marketing / CRM expenses – because you can interact directly with fans / customers, for free.
- You save on customer support solutions – using Telegram to process inquiries is also free.
- You save on hosting costs because your store and your entire community can reside entirely or primarily in Telegram.
- You save on payment processing fees – because e-commerce service providers (like Shopify) or donation services (like Patreon) typically add a commission on top of what payment gateways charge.
Businesses of all sizes are going to find something useful on the platform.
The shopping features are going to work like a charm for all small business owners and creators of all kinds – bloggers, artists, YouTubers, podcasters, etc. – can use it to collect donations, sell fan material, premium access to content, etc. at.
If you really want to, you can build an entire business just on Telegram and never leave the app.
And don’t forget, this is only part of the update which also added some useful new features like scheduled voice chats – a great thing for companies scheduling meetings and for popular personalities inviting. fans to tune in for a live show.
As if that weren’t enough, Pavel Durov announced that the next update, coming in May, will add robust new video features to Telegram calls, effectively supporting Zoom and other teleconferencing apps that have seen a hit. rise in popularity during the pandemic.
The most amazing thing about all of these developments is that no one really wants to compete with Telegram on these features.
Will other messaging apps follow?
Unlike the Chinese developers of WeChat, Westerners are generally opposed to the idea of bundling too many functions in one product. And since WeChat is unlikely to be a competitor outside of Asia, given the global distrust of Chinese apps, Telegram is really the only competitor right now.
WhatsApp or Signal could potentially be up to 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 people think about it. companies are already paying. on its main platform.
It would also require an overhaul of its privacy, allowing users – at the very least – to hide their phone numbers before anyone wants to interact with strangers.
Telegram offers the best of all worlds – enough security, privacy, and corporate independence to be reliable, enough simplicity to be widely used, and enough robustness to be a real competitor to existing, often expensive, solutions.
It takes Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Zoom, and also bites into e-commerce.
And the best thing is that this is still just the beginning as new features are added every few months. As such, it makes sense to start investing your time in the platform right now.
Featured Image Credit: Dado Ruvic via Reuters
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