Rumors about foreign messaging apps entering Iran’s market is receiving more attention on Iranian news outlets. This time it was Wispi’s turn to make the headlines.
It was nearly three months ago that Iran Supreme Council of Cyberspace announced the new regulations regarding the local messaging apps in Iran. A month later, we got another news from Iran Supreme Council of Cyberspace regarding the foreign messaging apps as well. Iran is playing an important role in the world’s economy and politics, so it’s obvious that the government doesn’t allow the foreign countries to control and manipulate the social media platforms and messaging apps. We have seen data manipulations in the search engine results in the recent elections in America and we shouldn’t forget about NSA’s programs which are basically monitoring most of the people’s online activities all around the world. And why messaging apps? Simply because in Iran people use messaging apps such as Telegram (which is the dominant player), as a social media. Having control over these platforms or manipulating the trending content can have a great outcome in the society. That’s why Iran is trying to regulate the activities of these platforms inside the country.
These regulations are basically incentives for local and foreign messaging apps which want to launch in the country. First and foremost condition is to host the servers inside the country. You can check out the articles on the government incentives for messaging apps from these links: Million Dollar Incentives for Local Messaging Apps in Iran and New Social Media and Messaging Apps Regulations Introduced in Iran.
Two months ago, TechRasa got an anonymous tip that VK and KakaoTalk are in talks to find Iranian partners and a week later a rumor about WeChat to enter Iran’s market. These rumors and especially the rumor about Wispi a messaging app based in Hong Kong (owned by SG Atlantic Limited) grabbed the attention of local news outlets in the past few weeks but the Ministry of Communications has denied any involvement in these negotiations. According to Fars News and some rumors, Iran’s government even projected 80 billion Tomans (nearly $21M) of state budget for investment and moving the servers of the Wispi messaging app into the country. But the Minister of Communications denied these rumors and said the Ministry of Communications is supporting all the messaging apps and the policies are clear. There are also rumors about the involvement of one of the internet providers in Iran which is doing the negotiations with the Wispi messaging app.
We should note that Telegram recently rolled out its voice call feature which is not active in Iran yet, even though Iran is the biggest market of Telegram. There was also news regarding the negotiations between Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Telegram for bringing the voice call feature for Iranians. But according to Iran’s Minister of Communications, this depends on the Mobile Network Operators inside the country, simply because Telegram should use the infrastructure that these Mobile Network Operators have invested in and built.
Overall, we think that Iran is opening its gate to more messaging apps which are willing to move their servers inside the country to bring competition in the market and provide better services for Iranians.