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As smartphones start to become ubiquitous in the early 2010s, chat apps gradually begin to replace SMS as the de facto standard of mobile communication. However, all chat apps exhibit serious security flaws. Three young software engineers from Switzerland start to build a secure alternative.
The app is called “End-to-End Encrypted Messaging Application,” “EEEMA” for short. Soon, the three “E”s are replaced by “Three,” and it becomes “Threema.”
The first Threema version is released on December 12, 2012, in Apple’s App Store. A few months later, the first Android version is released. The impact is tremendous; the user base quickly grows to 250,000. Threema has caught the spirit of the age.
By revealing the Prism surveillance program in mid to late 2013, Edward Snowden drastically raises the public’s awareness of privacy issues on the Internet. The scale of the global surveillance is alarming. All kinds of online communication have been intercepted. Concerned Internet users fundamentally question the communication channels they have been using to date.
After Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014, Threema experiences a greater boost in growth than ever before. In a few weeks, the number of users climbs to 2 million.
The founders are caught off guard by the enormous increase in downloads after the WhatsApp acquisition. In night shifts, they answer press inquiries, handle support requests, develop the app, and complete the most important business tasks.
Establishing a startup was planned for quite some time. In spring of 2014, it finally happens: The Threema GmbH is founded in Pfäffikon SZ. A team of experienced software developers is continuously working on refining the Threema app.
With Threema Gateway, an innovative and versatile API, which allows to send Threema messages via one’s own software, is introduced.
Since the company’s establishment, the app downloads have remained steady. In 2016, Threema hits the mark once again with Threema Work, a chat service specifically tailored to the use in companies and organizations.
Threema Web enables chatting from the comfort of the computer without making cuts in security. With Threema calls, which are introduced shortly after, it is possible to conduct calls without having to disclose a phone number.
With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), European companies are no longer allowed to use everyday messengers for business purposes.
Threema Broadcast gets added to the portfolio, a professional tool for top-down communication. In addition, the Threema app is now also equipped with its own backup solution: Threema Safe allows to automatically store the most important Threema data anonymously, secure, and independent of the mobile platform.
The Münster University of Applied Sciences’ Lab for IT Security confirms the security of the Android and iOS app and Threema Safe.
The coronavirus pandemic heightens the need for video telephony, and Threema promptly responds with the introduction of video calls in Threema. By partnering with the German-Swiss investment company Afinum Management AG, Threema lays a solid foundation for continuity in company development and acceleration of product development.
Threema Libre, the Threema version that can be used without any Google services, gets introduced and is available via the alternative app store F-Droid. Also, Threema turns ten on December 12, 2022.
Shortly before the year comes to an end, Threema strengthens its security further with the new communication protocol “Ibex,” and the protocol portfolio is extended with new components for end-to-end encrypted group calls and the upcoming multi-device solution.
German researchers provide a formal security proof of the new communication protocol, “Ibex,” confirming that Threema’s security is based on a rock-solid foundation.
With the introduction of group calls, all Threema users can conduct end-to-end encrypted voice and video calls in group chats. The development of the next generation of the desktop app is also making progress: iOS users can already test the multi-device functionality and chat from the computer independently of a smartphone.
Despite the general trend of abandoning cash in favor of electronic payment methods, Threema’s Android app can now be purchased completely anonymously with cash. In addition, a partner program is launched to ensure the availability of Threema Work around the globe and provide first-hand support via local service providers.
To this day, its comprehensive security and the unparalleled privacy protection set Threema apart from conventional instant messengers. Threema is more than just a chat app. Threema is a statement. A statement for privacy.
Number of Users
Number of Corporate Customers
68,000 Play Store Reviews
Threema started as an abbreviation: “EEEMA,” for “End-to-End Encrypted Messaging Application.” The three “E”s were a bit unwieldy, so it became “Threema.”
Threema is the world’s best-selling secure messenger. It sets itself apart from others in the following respects:
In contrast to other messengers, your identity in Threema does not depend on a phone number. Each Threema user gets a randomly generated, 8-digit Threema ID when starting the app for the first time. This ID is your unique address in Threema and makes it possible to use Threema completely anonymously, without disclosing any personal information.
Your Threema ID is just one of two components that make up your identity in Threema. The other one is the so-called key pair (consisting of a public key and a private key) which is essential for the encryption. Your Threema ID is permanently tied to your public key. While the public key is sent to Threema’s servers to be distributed to your chat partners, the private key remains on your device where it is securely stored. All messages directed to you will be individually encrypted with your public key on the sender’s device. They can only be decrypted with your personal private key.
|Wearables* (e.g., Smartwatch)
Threema is fully supported.
Threema is not supported.
* If you are using Threema with an Android Wear smartwatch or an Apple Watch, you can read message previews, see chat pictures, agree/disagree to incoming messages, and answer messages using dictation (or using Scribble on an Apple Watch).
Threema is currently available in the following languages:
If Threema doesn’t support the device’s system language, the user’s preferred languages (as defined in the system settings) will be taken into account. If these languages aren’t available in Threema, English serves as fallback.
Is Threema not yet available in your language? Support the translation here:
Yes. Both servers and offices only use energy from renewable sources.
The development of the Threema apps and the maintenance of the server infrastructure generates costs. The app price covers these costs.
If we wanted to offer our apps for free, we would have to monetize user data, which, of course, would totally undermine Threema’s purpose (i.e., to protect the users’ data and privacy). Besides, Threema is designed from the ground up to only generate as little user data as technically possible, so there’s next to no user data to begin with.
First of all, if you have recently used your Threema ID on another device (i.e., if you have switched devices or if you have turned on a device that has been lying in storage), you can ignore this warning. To prevent it from (re)occurring when changing devices, it’s recommended to uninstall Threema on the previous device and then restart the current one.
If, however, you are certain that you’re not using your Threema ID on any other device, then your private key may be compromised. You should revoke your Threema ID and follow the steps listed below before creating a new ID.
No, once the app has been purchased, there are no recurring costs. We don’t charge recurring fees, and there aren’t any paid extra features.
Please note, however, that licenses cannot be transferred between sales platforms. Therefore, when switching to a different operating system (i.e., from Android to iOS), Threema has to be purchased again. Further details about reinstalling Threema can be found in this FAQ entry.