Sci & Tech

Surge in Popularity of Payment Services in Iranian Messaging Apps

Surge in Popularity of Payment in Iranian Messaging Apps
Surge in Popularity of Payment in Iranian Messaging Apps
Shaparak, the domestic payment and settlement network, handled 831 million transactions worth $25.8 billion during the first Iranian month

Iranians in increasing numbers are moving toward using cards and digital payments instead of paying in cash. However, intermittent availability of bank systems has made them cautious about leaving the old currency behind.

Shaparak, the domestic payment and settlement network, handled 831 million transactions during the first month the fiscal year that started in March worth 786.3 trillion rials ($25.8 billion), showing a 25.1% growth in the total number of transactions and 27.2% surge in value compared to last year.

Here is a list of local messaging apps which now offer digital payment services:

Gap Messenger for Making Payments

GapAfzar or Gap Messenger is a new cross-platform encrypted messaging service, where users send and receive messages and content.

Gap, with 50,000 users is the most popular domestic messaging app; however, it comes a distant third compared to foreign services like WhatsApp and Telegram.

The app, which is planning to provide a comprehensive banking service to users, has made it possible to do an in-app “money-transfer and bill payment”.

Bale Looking at the Same Market

Another app called ‘Bale’ (yes in Persian) is another messaging application developed by students and offers banking and payment features distinguishing itself from similar competitors.

The app released on Android and iOS (remaining on the Apple Store) lets users perform limited transactions such as paying bills. The financial transactions are  “supervised by the Central Bank of Iran,” according to the app’s website.

Bale seeks to resemble popular messaging application Telegram and has similar features such as file sharing, private messaging, creating channels and chat groups as well as searching users based on their names.

Just like Gap, Bale has not managed to exceed its subscriber base of 50,000.

Moneyar Deals With Finance

Moneyar is another financial social network aimed at facilitating financial activities such as split payments ‘going Dutch’ as well as crowd funding services.

Users can pay and request money from friends as easy as sending messages, so as to avoid dealing with cash.

However, the app is fairly unknown to the young technology-friendly population and has not been able to attract more than 2,000 users so far.

IVA Creates ‘Playful Payments’

IVA is the latest domestic payment application based on playing and social interaction. The main reason for designing IVA, according to the app website, “was to provide an entertaining and delightful atmosphere in payment software.”

Subscribers, through IVA, can create a group and chat with friends. According to the company’s website, it is possible to access different payment services such as recharging phone credit, paying bills and shopping without a debit card.

Telegram’s Developing Offer

However, none of the domestic apps have been able to overcome Telegram, a Russian messaging app, which now has more than 40 million users in the country.

Telegram made an announcement in blog posts on May 18 directed both to ‘bot’ developers and the general public, introducing yet another way to ensure you never leave the messaging app.

The new system, if launched in Iran, could revolutionize payment systems, possibly disrupting other forms of digital payments like Point-of-Sale or even food delivery services of companies like Zoodfood.

A chatbot ‘bot’ is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Chatterbots are typically used in dialogue systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition.


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