Startup Wickr Hints at Vision for Blockchain in Private Messaging

The company behind Wickr, the privacy-oriented instant message app, has been awarded a patent that proposes using blockchain to maintain chat records.

AccessTimeIconNov 1, 2017 at 6:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:06 a.m. UTC
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The company behind Wickr, the privacy-oriented instant message app, has been awarded a patent that proposes using blockchain to maintain chat records.

, published on Oct. 31 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enables users to pick up where they left off in their encrypted conversations if the communication chain gets broken. Wickr's patent describes how a user can create chat rooms and set rules for them, such as when to auto-delete messages. These rules are stored on participant devices, but the documentation notes that they could also be stored on a blockchain.

As the patent document describes:

"The secure room information and transaction information may be stored in a block chain format, such that each participant of the secure chat room documents all commands and communications. In this regard, the secure chat room is managed in a distributed manner by all the participants of the room, and not centrally on a server."

In conversation with CoinDesk, Wickr CT Christopher Howell said that the company prioritizes ways for a user to self-verify that they are talking to the right person.

"Everything we do is managed at the peer level," Howell explained. "The server doesn't have anything to do with it."

Wickr is not yet using a blockchain in its existing applications, nor does it have a definite plan to do so.

"We do see some potential there," Howell said, but he conceded that the firm has not yet actively considered how it would implement a blockchain.

"The patent was more about how we control our peer-to-peer group messaging protocol," he said.

Founded in 2011, the company has raised roughly $73 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase.

Keyboard image via Shutterstock.

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