European encrypted messaging app Wire, admired by the likes of Edward Snowden for its security merits, is launching a new business messaging platform.

Wire is moving into a sector dominated by the likes of Slack and Skype for Business. Though over 2m businesses use Slack every day, the platform isn’t end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) and Wire’s co-founder and chief executive, Alan Duric, says this is a problem.

Duric told Verdict:

In Slack’s marketing material, it says it uses secure communications and what not. There I think it’s misleading. It uses transport encryption, which is not as secure as end-to-end encryption.

With Wire, it’s different. The company was founded back in 2014 with Duric and ex-Skye co-founder Janus Friis. The duo joined forces with a few other ex-Skype colleagues in 2012 to think about how Skype would look if it was launched 10 years later.

Duric said:

We identified the gaps we’d seen since Skype became a part of Microsoft. Privacy had become an issue, user experience hadn’t changed, and the third gap was encryption.

Wire’s consumer-focused messaging app launched then in 2014 and it reports that it has user figures “in the millions”.

However, the team found that businesses were starting to use the consumer product in their working lives, taking advantages of the feature it offers including group calling, screen-sharing, and file transfer.

Wire took all these elements and used them to inform its new business product.

After running a pilot scheme with 300 different companies, it is ready to launch.

A new end-to-end encrypted business messenger 

Duric says that what sets Wire apart from different messaging apps is that it has secure features, like end-to-end encryption as well as being easy to use.

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On the mobile app, you can switch your private messenger profile such as chats with friends and family. Then you can switch to your business profile, and see all your work communications.

As well, the app doesn’t use your mobile number as an identifier, as say WhatsApp will.

“A business wouldn’t use your mobile number as an identifier, they would use your email or an employee ID, which is connected to an active directory. Wire treats every device independently, so you can use it in any environment,” said Duric.

But back to encryption. Duric says that email is over for sensitive communication. The recent Deloitte email hack demonstrates that there is a need to use end-to-end encryption for sensitive business communication.

In addition, once the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is enforced in Europe next year, businesses will need to ensure they are compiling with the regulations.

Duric said:

By using end-to-end encryption, you’re basically sorting out most of the troubles that businesses could face with GDPR, such as losing customer data or having exploits on your system then your data is compromised.

What is interesting is that consumers are enjoying some of the highest security on messaging platforms than ever.

Yet, this hasn’t translated into the business space yet. WhatsApp for instance and Facebook Messenger all use end-to-end encryption.

Duric added:

Awareness is growing about end-to-end encryption. It is in its infancy now, but businesses do need to upgrade their security of their communications. [Wire] is basically an easy step to do it.

Pricing details for Wire’s business messenger are available here.