context in which live messaging platforms are used has also expanded over the
past several years. Once a medium reserved mostly for socializing, chat
services are now widespread in professional settings as well.
Live Messaging Challenges
of the advances in live messaging technology over the past several years,
significant shortcomings exist in many modern platforms.
flaw is the centralization of data. Most chat services rely on centralized
servers to connect parties. In most cases, platform users have no control over
the data that travels through those servers. It may be stored permanently
against their wishes. It may be redistributed to third parties. It could be
stolen by attackers who exploit vulnerabilities in the messaging platform.
where users do wish to store data permanently, existing platforms are less than
ideal, too. By requiring message logs to be uploaded permanently to centralized
servers, the platforms expose message data to the possibility of being modified
or corrupted without the knowledge of users. In other words, there is no good
solution for storing message data immutably.
users reliably on modern messaging platforms is also a challenge. Most
messaging services lack strong systems for ensuring that the people you are
chatting with are the people you think you are chatting with, or preventing
accounts from being hijacked.
chat services suffer from interoperability problems. Although the introduction
of open chat protocols such as XMPP have increased compatibility between different messaging
services and tools, many still remain very proprietary, especially those that
provide more than text messaging. For example, you can’t talk to someone on
Apple’s FaceTime service unless you use an Apple device with FaceTime
installed. Similarly, the Skype protocol can’t be used with applications other
than Skype. This lack of interoperability makes innovation more difficult and
forces users to subscribe to services that they might prefer not to use, as they
have no other options.
Blockchain-Based Messaging Solutions
the above represent challenges that blockchain technology is well suited to
solve. Using a blockchain, decentralized messaging platforms can be
constructed. Data can be stored on a blockchain in an immutable way, rather
than on central servers. Identities can be secured through the blockchain, too.
addition, with all of this decentralization comes more interoperability.
Decentralized messaging networks are controlled by decentralized organizations,
rather than companies that resist open protocols in the interest of competing
in the market.
Live Messaging Services Using the Blockchain
of these innovations have yet been implemented. However, some messaging
platforms are already leveraging blockchain technology to solve the challenges
discussed above or related ones.
example, the Mercury Protocol uses the Ethereum blockchain
as the basis for building communications networks. The Mercury Protocol is not
a specific messaging platform itself but is a foundation on which any group can
build a messaging network. Messaging data is secured by the blockchain, and the
Mercury Protocol uses digital tokens to incentivize participation in the
leverages the Ethereum blockchain in a similarly way. It uses the blockchain to
provide an encrypted transport protocol for communications — although the
platform is more of a programming experiment than a serious blockchain project
and it is unclear how complete it currently is.
example is e-Chat.
Part digital wallet and part social network, the platform supports video calls
and voice conferences. ECHO is a similar example of a
digital wallet with built-in peer-to-peer communications, although it appears
to store messaging data in a central location in the cloud.
of blockchain technology to improve messaging platforms remains in the early
stages, but some projects are already achieving innovations. In the future, it
is easy to imagine how the blockchain can help to make messaging networks
everywhere more secure, reliable and decentralized.