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Bridgefy launches end-to-end encrypted messaging for the app used during protests and disasters

Offline-messaging app Bridgefy — which innovatively uses Bluetooth and Wi-fi — became known as the go-to app by thousands of protesters around the world to keep communications going even when oppressive regimes blocked or shut down the Internet. Recently, activists in Nigeria and Thailand have urged supporters to download the app, as last year, when protesters in Hong Kong downloaded Bridgefy to face the government’s censorship of phone services or data connections. In the last 12 months, the startup says it’s reached 2 million downloads. And since the events of the weekend, when Turkey and Greece were hit by an earthquake, the app is now trending on app stores for those regions.

Bridgefy is now publishing a major new update, with a new, crucial feature for activists: end-to-end encrypted messages. This will allow people to securely send and receive messages when they don’t have access to data and will use the same encryption protocol used by Signal, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger .

Bridgefy launched in 2014 (and appeared on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage in 2017) when the founders identified the problem of not being able to communicate during the earthquakes in Mexico City. It started as a mobile app, and an SDK was added a few years later so other apps could also work without the Internet. The Bridgefy SDK is now licensed to companies on an annual subscription model, based on user volume and is integrated by more than 40 companies across payments, messaging, gaming, social media, dating, and natural disaster apps. Technically-speaking, its competitors include GoTenna and the moth-ball gathering Firechat, although Bridgefy has become better known in the activist space.

The startup is now raising a Seed round and has already raised $800,000 USD, with investors including Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, Alchemist Accelerator and GAN Ventures.

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WhatsApp is now delivering roughly 100 billion messages a day

WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging app owned by Facebook, is now delivering roughly 100 billion messages a day, the company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said at the quarterly earnings call Thursday.

For some perspective, users exchanged 100 billion messages on WhatsApp last New Year’s Eve. That is the day when WhatsApp tops its engagement figures, and as many of you may remember, also the time when the service customarily suffered glitches in the past years. (No outage on last New Year’s Eve!)

At this point, WhatsApp is just competing with itself. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp together were used to exchange 60 billion messages a day as of early 2016. Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in May that iMessage and FaceTime were seeing record usage, but did not share specific figures. The last time Apple did share the figure, it was far behind WhatsApp’s then usage (podcast). WeChat, which has also amassed over 1 billion users, is behind in daily volume of messages, too.

In early 2014, WhatsApp was being used to exchange about 50 billion texts a day, its then chief executive Jan Koum revealed at an event.

At the time, WhatsApp had fewer than 500 million users. WhatsApp now has more than 2 billion users and at least in India, its largest market by users, its popularity surpasses those of every other smartphone app including the big blue app.

“This year we’ve all relied on messaging more than ever to keep up with our loved ones and get business done,” tweeted Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp.

Sadly, that’s all the update the company shared on WhatsApp today. Mystery continues for when WhatsApp expects to resume its payments service in Brazil, and when it plans to launch its payments in India, where it began testing the service in 2018. (It has already shared big plans around financial services in India, though.)

“We are proud that WhatsApp is able to deliver roughly 100B messages every day and we’re excited about the road ahead,” said Cathcart.

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