Indian state-run entities join forces to enhance WhatsApp rival, Samvad

Samvad app India 5Gi
Image by 1STunningArt | Bigstockphoto

Two Indian state-run companies are joining forces to further develop the WhatsApp alternative, Samvad, by adding new enterprise-grade features to tap customers for secured communication needs in public and private sectors. 

The application was first introduced in 2019 by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), a government-owned technology development entity, and is being used by several government organisations. Now, it is partnering with another state-run engineering company, Telecommunications Consultants India (TCIL).

Samvaad, which translates to “conversation”, is available on Android and iOS platforms, albeit for Indian government officials only at this stage. Like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, Samvad offers secure calling and messaging along with file sharing.

C-DoT had previously said that it will launch two variants of the application for public and government usage. 

Delhi-based TCIL and C-DoT are now looking to make the app device-agnostic. “WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal are popular but have privacy issues. C-DoT also has a similar messaging app with all features that can be used for enterprise usage without having any privacy concerns,” TCIL chairman Sanjeev Kumar was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

Kumar said that both companies plan to market the application as a PaaS (platform-as-a-service) after integrating enterprise-grade functions for large businesses or organisations.

Kumar said that the app will allow users to initiate video and audio conferencing on desktop. The feature is being tested by WhatsApp in India.  

“We are optimistic about Samwad app prospects. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the people are comfortable in staying at home while remaining connected to the outside world for professional and personal needs,” he said. 

Both C-DoT and TCIL are looking to position the application as a video conferencing tool as well. India’s video conferencing market which stands at Rs 8,000 crore ($1.1 billion)

This comes at a time when global WhatsApp rivals Signal and Telegram witnessing a surge in downloads following the controversial privacy policy update by Facebook’s WhatsApp

As per media reports, various Indian companies, including Tata Steel have issued advisories to employees asking them to avoid sharing sensitive information on WhatsApp. They have also asked employees to stop using the messaging platform for critical business calls.

Several companies in India’s pharma and financial services sectors are restricting official communications to emails or personal messages instead of WhatsApp. They are now evaluating platforms like Slack for official use.

According to the latest data provided by analytics firm Sensor Tower, 24% of the total downloads for Telegram came from India in January 2021. The messaging app was downloaded 63 million times in the month.  

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