Amid global concerns as Mark Zuckerberg's WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger continue to differentiate from one another, meet consumer needs, strict sanctions, and follow GDPR regulations, Business Insider SSA by Pulse talked to a tech entrepreneur, Derek Roga, about this development and how his firm, EQUIIS Technologies, is rivalling the tech giants in social media application.
In this interview, Derek Roga, CEO of EQUIIS Technologies, also corroborated Telegram's CEO recent statement on why WhatsApp will continue to face privacy issues.
EQUIIS Technologies’ product, Flaim, is a new messaging app that allows users to stay in touch within a community just like WhatsApp and Telegram.
Here’s an excerpt of the interview which has been edited for clarity sake.
BISSA: Tell us about EQUIIS technologies?
Derek Roga: EQUIIS is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, and is one of the global leaders in providing secure, encrypted and auditable messaging solutions for companies, governments, and organizations.
BISSA: Tell us about your plan to enter the Nigerian market?
Derek: We decided to enter the Nigerian market as it is one of the biggest economies in Africa, but also has a large, young and engaged population and a large portion of smartphone users, so we felt it was the right country to start our African launch.
BISSA: One of the most important aspects of mobile apps is data privacy, how would you rate tech giants in this regard?
Derek: Thanks to the media, a lot of bad practices have come to light and we look at what the tech giants are doing as “Data Piracy” instead of “Data Privacy”.
Moreover, we feel that users have not been treated fairly and lured into giving away their data in exchange for free features which has eventually only helped the tech giants and not really benefited the users. With Flaim, each person is the owner of their own data; they should have complete rights to how their data is used or monetized. We do this through our personal data vault.
BISSA: Briefly explain what happened with the recent WhatsApp hack.
Derek: We don’t have all the details of course, but it is regrettable that an application as popular as WhatsApp didn’t have the measures in place to prevent that.
The fundamental question we ask ourselves is if they were not able to properly protect their own app, how can they assure us they can protect our data. In fact, as recently as April 2019, Facebook the parent company of WhatsApp has hundreds of millions of their subscribers data exposed in the Amazon Cloud.
BISSA: Recently, Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, said WhatsApp can never be secure – what do you think about development?
Derek: Almost all messaging and social apps use open source encryption which is well documented as being secure, 100% security is a claim no one should ever make.
The challenge WhatsApp faces is the business model of their parent company is based purely on leveraging people’s data, that in of itself begs the question around the security effectiveness. Apps like Flaim and Telegram are built with security and privacy from the ground up, therefore the inherent architecture assures the security integrity.
BISSA: Flaim, tell us about it and why it should be an option for people?
Derek: We launched Flaim in Nigeria on the 19th of May and by the 22nd of May we had recorded over 100,000 downloads making us the fastest growing app in Nigeria; since then we added another 100,000 downloads and growing on a daily basis.
One of the reasons why it took off so quickly is because we had a campaign where we offered users free data for downloading the app and inviting their friends, and that went viral quickly. Another reason is that we care about privacy and we don’t own the users’ data, nor will we check the user’s data, and that is a game-changing proposition.
Our studies revealed that Nigerians actually care about that as most free apps are built on the business model of aggregating and using user’s data.
BISSA: What essential features will the app offers Nigerians?
Derek: A major value proposal for the user is that Flaim continuously rewards users for being on the platform and being engaged, and we are giving away prizes which range from free data to mobile phones and other goods that come from us and our sponsors, and that is very compelling for most Nigerians who have seen apps eat up their data, without giving anything back.
Derek says the platform also offers users the control over their data and their privacy with features like ‘Do Not Disturb’. The company is also testing a version of Flaim that works on Edge networks, so that rural communities in Nigeria can enjoy VOIP calls.