Telegram’s new widget lets businesses connect directly with users of its chat app

We know that messaging app Telegram has big plans — beyond a planned $1.2 billion ICO it is also developing its own platform for blockchain-based services — and today it took a notable step towards making its messaging platform more useful as it rolled out a web login widget.

The new feature will allow website owners (business owners) to connect with Telegram users right from their site using a Telegram bot.

Telegram has placed a lot of emphasis on bots, and matching them with a web plugin creates a system that could allow businesses to send reminders, confirmation of sales, updates and more information direct to customers via chats.

Telegram is planning to introduce payments as part of its ambitious ICO project, so when you factor that it then this widget could enable users to pay for goods online using Telegram once its payment service is up and running. It already supports payment via bot chats, but you’d imagine the service will be more robust when Telegram gets a wallet function.

Telegram has been ahead of the pack on a number of features, but it is playing catchup a little here with web login. Facebook last year launched a plug-in that lets businesses connect with users via Messenger, while it is also developing business-focused apps to let companies tap into its 1.5 billion monthly userbase with payments set to arrive soon, too. Messenger, for what its worth, also claims over 1.2 billion active users.

While its userbase is growing — and it is particularly popular among the crypto community which utilizes the app for ICO community management — Telegram hasn’t quite cracked 200 million monthly users yet, so it is lacking Facebook-like scale. But it does have momentum, and this new addition might help ramp up engagement particularly given the other plans it has.

As TechCrunch reported last month, Telegram’s ICO whitepaper reveals plans for a distributed file storage service, a proxy service to create TOR-like secure web browsing, a platform to host decentralized apps, and payments for micropayments and peer-to-peer transactions.

A rough schedule of launches is as follows, according to Telegram’s ICO documents:

  • Q1 2018 — secure ID launch
  • Q2 2018 — MVP of test of network of TON
  • Q3 2018 — testing and security audit for TON
  • Q4 2018 — stable version of TON deployed
  • Q4 2018 — Telegram wallet launched
  • Q1 2019 — TON-based economy goes live inside Telegram
  • Q2 2019 — TON services, storage and proxy launched

Grand plans aside, Telegram ran into issues last week when its core chat app and new ‘Telegram X’ apps were both pulled from App Store for 24 hours after violating Apple’s content rules. Apple blog 9toMac later reported that the removal was due to child pornography being shared by Telegram users.