End-to-End Encryption Chat App ‘Threema’ Will Go Open Source

By Bill Toulas / September 5, 2020

The ‘Threema’ app has announced that the startup phase is over, and the company is now partnering with the investment company “Afinum Management AG.” At the same time, they are now initiating the next stage of the project, which is to go open source and also to support the use of the software on multiple devices in parallel (syncing). This is very close to what Signal does, so Threema is entering a space dominated by others, but with amazing credentials and good chances of success.

Threema is one of the most secure and privacy-minded chat apps out there, allowing users to stay completely anonymous, leaving minimal traces on the server infrastructure, and featuring an “always-on” end-to-end encryption. However, the fact that the client’s code was proprietary remained a source of criticism from the community, as preventing people from being able to review your code is a sure way to maintain uncertainty about what’s really going on.

Of course, that is not to say that all closed-source software projects aren’t to be trusted. The main reason why companies like to keep their products’ code proprietary is to stay ahead of the competition, prevent the copying of features or their uniquely smart implementation, and generally maintain an advantage in the market. Open sourcing the code, though, wins people’s trust overnight and also boosts security by naturally expanding the code reviewing and bug reporting process.

Releasing the client’s code also means that people will be free to use it to create forks, just like what happens with Telegram, but this shouldn’t be an issue for Threema. After all, one would have to operate a supporting infrastructure and gradually win user trust to have them make the leap. Threema already has several millions of users and is deployed in over 3,000 companies and organizations, so we’re talking about a well-established project.

The relevant announcement gives a timeline for the open-sourcing of the code, taking place over the next months. As that happens, more and more people who are currently using Signal, Wickr, or Telegram will give Threema a go, so we expect the app to rise in popularity by the end of the year. The big differentiating element it brings over the other options in this market is that a user may create an account without using a phone number.

Another cool thing that was recently added on Threema is support for E2EE video calls, which is a hot topic these days.

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