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Leveling the user-to-user messaging "playing field" for businesses around the world
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Leveling the user-to-user messaging "playing field" for businesses around the world

Mar 28, 2019

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, expressed last week his plans to direct Facebook’s vision toward building a “privacy-focused” messaging platform. He predicts that, if this vision is executed well, private messaging could be “even more important for people than the platforms Facebook has built to help people share and connect more openly.” Facebook already owns two of the world’s largest messaging platforms – WhatsApp and Messenger - and has over 2.32 billion monthly active users on the Facebook network. Zuckerberg expects future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook family of applications.

From Zuckerberg’s post, Facebook appears to place bets on private user-to-user messaging as the future of the internet. It is prioritizing resources towards making its messaging apps “faster, simpler, more private and more secure,” as it sees messaging become a fundamental human behavior in the digital age. “Messaging is just the beginning,” Zuckerberg writes, “there will be other ways for people to interact on top of that, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services.” That’s an incredibly powerful thesis predicting how messaging will have an impact on the lives of people in the future.

This is profound for us at SendBird. At SendBird, we’ve built an entire company around serving human beings’ fundamental need to communicate. We have made it our mission to digitize human interactions for businesses.

Zuckerberg’s announcement is a strong validation of our hypothesis - that creating the simplest and most elegant solution for building real-time messaging experiences for businesses will benefit both businesses and consumers alike.

The possibilities that emerge from messaging have just begun to take shape. Of course, the biggest use-case for a company like Facebook is connecting people to each other in the “digital equivalent of a living room” so they can share and live their lives complemented by messaging apps.

But messaging isn’t simply the digital equivalent of a living room. It is larger than that. Messaging opens up possibilities to create digital equivalents of any experiential setting where a real-time interaction with a human being can improve the overall experience, and outcome for consumers and the outcomes for businesses. We think in-app messaging is central to creating such digital equivalents.

Think of a personalized shopping experience where a customer looks at a product in a commerce app and easily transitions to the app’s messaging interface for more information, for sending a secure payment, or socializing and amplifying their purchase. Or a digital equivalent for a sports stadium where a fan watches a live basketball game on a streaming app from anywhere in the world, and easily celebrates with her friends and other fans from the app’s messaging interface, or even discovers promoted fan goods for purchase in the app. Or imagine experiencing an on-demand ride-hailing or food-delivery service where messaging ensures that a driver always updates customers or navigates difficult logistical situations and customers can receive and send updates.

Think of the digital equivalent to a strong social community which connects, communicates and acts in real-time to discuss topics that matter. Think of a private interaction where a doctor reassures a patient in real-time about a medical condition in an app. Or an eighth-grade student, who is struggling with a difficult Algebra problem, connecting with a tutor in the messaging interface of EdTech app, so they can learn how to solve a problem and get on track. Think of a personalized concierge experience where a customer can interact with a banking or insurance representative and get her queries resolved in real-time rather than waiting on the phone.

These are just a fraction of the possibilities we have seen. When businesses embed messaging in the client’s app experience, they don’t just embed the ability to message bi-directionally in real-time, but they embrace the ability to be present, to communicate, and to connect with users in real-time. To serve, engage, delight, and transact in the digital equivalent of a business in ways that we’re only beginning to imagine.

Many of our customers who are disrupting their industries have already seen the positive effects that messaging brings to their business.

GO-JEK, an on-demand unicorn from Asia, is beginning to reduce booking cancellations and improve delivery operations in significant ways.

Reddit, the world’s largest community site, is seeing an unpredictable rise in user engagement after adding messaging to their platform.

Handy, recently acquired by the world’s largest digital marketplace for home services, is seeing improvements in the experiences of both service providers and customers.

Hinge, a leading dating app, is enabling fun and authentic conversations to help more people fall in love.

Dream11, a fantasy sports platform and unicorn from Asia, is witnessing an uplift in app engagement post sporting events.

Carousell, a consumer-to-consumer marketplace, is increasing average transaction values.

These and over 10,000 other customers ranging from enterprises to startups from nearly every continent (not Antartica yet!) have started to realize significant app user and business gains by adopting messaging in their applications. The advent of messaging is only beginning.

Thus far, we’ve touched on the relevance and possibilities of user-to-user messaging. Facebook also highlighted another important point in its announcement, that future communication would not only shift to messaging, but to private, encrypted messaging where people can be confident their conversations remain secure. Facebook outlined a few principles around building such a platform. These were specifically around keeping interactions private, keeping interactions encrypted or secure, not keeping messages for longer than necessary, user safety, and setting up messaging infrastructure in secure locations around the world.

Facebook as a platform has learned an important lesson about user data over the course of the last year and will need to do a lot of substantive work for privacy and security, if it wants to be on the right side of history. However, this will come at a cost. Encryption is a powerful tool for privacy, but that also includes the privacy of bad actors.

For SendBird, the idea of security and user safety has been fundamental since our early days. We have invested in getting security compliance from leading standards such as the SOC2 Type2 Report, ISO27001, GDPR, EU/US Privacy Shield and HIPAA/HITECH. We continue to research and add new security standards. All communication to and from SendBird servers is encrypted using TLS/SSL with authentication devices for client and server side. All files are saved with AES256 encryption in servers across USA, Germany, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and India, and access is tightly restricted. We go one step further by conducting regular third-party penetration testing to proactively ensure security and address potential vulnerabilities.

Having said all the above, we have also created manual and automated moderation tools that help keep users safe in conversations. SendBird treats all messaging data as the exclusive property of our clients. We have capabilities that allow customers to retrieve messages and export user data using Platform APIs should they choose to do so. We strongly believe that in matters of user data, our clients have the best judgment on how they approach their customers’ message data - in a responsible way. We work with some of the most loved and respected brands on the planet and have been confirmed many times over in our belief that our clients have their customers’ security at heart.

As the megatrend towards messaging becomes a reality, businesses will be faced with an important choice:

  1. To conduct business on convergent platforms like Facebook through its WhatsApp and Messenger apps and allow, therefore, platforms like Facebook to own the user relationships and govern how businesses interact with their users
  2. To chart a path on their own and create their own messaging experiences and endpoints, where they will own the customer relationship and govern how they interact with their users.

We believe that true business leverage comes from being as close to the customer as possible, and the ones closest to the customer will win. We believe forward-thinking businesses will be on the right side of customer relationship and messaging will be core to that relationship.

It has been SendBird CEO John Kim’s dream to contribute to the advancement of human civilization. It’s out of that mission that we set out to build SendBird, the simplest and most elegant solution for building the best real-time messaging experiences for businesses. These experiences will help businesses be present, connect, and communicate with users in personalized and delightful ways as one among them. When people across the globe begin taking messaging for granted in interactions with businesses, their family, and community everyday, we’ll know that we have built something to be proud of. We’re happy that Facebook is joining in on the messaging revolution. We intend, however, to level the playing field of user-to-user messaging for businesses around the world.

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