Secure Messaging App Wiper Adds Bitcoin Support, Gets Yanked In China

TECHCRUNCH: Wiper, a chat application designed to provide users with control over their sent and received messages, recently rolled out support for bitcoin transactions between its users. The tool is simple, allowing individuals to send cryptocurrency to others inside the app’s main chat interface. But CEO Manlio Carrelli told TechCrunch that Wiper was “removed from the iOS App Store in China due to violating that app store’s policies,” and that “Apple [had] explained to [the company] by phone that this violation was related to Wiper enabling bitcoin payments.”

Wiper has seen quick growth in recent months. According to the company’s own metrics, the app has received 8 million downloads in the last 90 days. A download does not a monthly active user make, but the uptake among users makes it ban more interesting. Last summer, Wiper raised $2.5 million.

Wiper’s core functionality that separates it from other chat apps — a nearly ubiquitous category — is that it allows users to delete their digital correspondence with other users on a case-by-case basis. If you sent me something salacious, say, you could, unilaterally, delete our conversation and thus clear the record. According to Carrelli, when a conversation has been deleted, it is erased from both users’ phones, along with “any temporary record kept on Wiper servers.”

The company believes that bitcoin will help the underbanked global population that does have access to smartphones. According to Wiper, there are around 2.5 billion people who meet that criteria. In the view of Carrelli, apps like Wiper are “a simple, intuitive way to introduce better financial tools.” The CEO went on to note that remittances are an obvious bitcoin use-case.

That Wiper was blocked in the Chinese App Store is notable given the growing popularity of bitcoin in China. According to recent media reports, around 80 percent of bitcoin transactions at current tip are associated with the Chinese yuan. The dollar is the second most popular currency for bitcoin-denominated transactions with traditional currencies.

Bitcoin and China have long had a tempestuous relationship. Rumors of increased regulation of bitcoin inside the nation have been known to swing its price. (I’ll check back with the company in a few months to see what percentage of its userbase have elected to use bitcoin.)

It will be interesting to see how the app approaches the Chinese market in the future, and whether the Chinese government intends a stricter policy towards bitcoin. If the latter is true, expect fireworks in the cyrptocurrency world.