Telegram expands payment support, adds scheduled voice chats, and more
Telegram is a popular mobile messaging platform, and the app saw a recent spike in users after Facebook announced changes it would make to its WhatsApp messenger. Telegram usually receives new features every few months, and now another update is rolling out with changes to payments and voice chats.
First up, Telegram is now rolling out improvements to its payment system, which allows bots to accept payments without leaving the app. For example, you could talk to a Telegram bot to order a pizza. “Starting today,” Telegram said in a blog post, “merchants can natively accept credit card payments in any chat, relying on 8 integrated third-party payment providers such as Stripe.” The app claims it doesn’t store payment information, and no commission is taken from purchases.
Telegram’s new developer documentation lists all the supported payment providers: Stripe, Yandex.Money, Sberbank, Tranzzo, Payme, CLICK, LiqPay, and ECOMMPAY. Telegram also supports Apple Pay and Google Pay, depending on which platform the app is running on. The main catch is that bots are not allowed to accept payments for digital goods and services for iOS users, due to Apple’s hard requirement that all digital purchases use its own payment platform (which takes 15-30% from the seller). Google technically has the same rule for apps from the Play Store, but the company won’t begin strictly enforcing the requirement until this September.
The payment documentation also lists all the supported currencies, which include the US Dollar (USD), British Pound (GPB), Japanese Yen (JPY), Russian Ruble (RUB), and many others. There are no supported cryptocurrencies — an interesting move, given that many other apps are doubling down on Bitcoin and other completely digital currencies. That’s not a bad move from Telegram, though, given that the rising energy demands from Bitcoin mining are terrible for the environment.
Telegram’s update also adds the ability to schedule voice chats for the future, similar to scheduling a meeting in services like Microsoft Teams and Slack. A countdown clock is visible when a chat is scheduled, and anyone in the group can receive a push notification when it starts. Telegram is also rolling out two experimental web apps, pinch-to-zoom in photos, and an improved video player.