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What Is the XMTP Web3 Messaging Protocol and How Does It Work?

Key Takeaways

  • XMTP is a new protocol that provides secure and private messaging between blockchain accounts, focusing on decentralization and user ownership.
  • XMTP works in three layers – the application layer, client layer, and network layer – to enable decentralized messaging and interaction between different platforms and applications.
  • XMTP messaging apps offer benefits such as decentralization, interoperability, user ownership of data, and the ability to conveniently transfer digital blockchain currency. However, widespread adoption and interoperability with popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger are still limited at this stage.

Web3 is a significant step forward from Web2. While Web2 is focused more on usability, data collection, and user-generated content, Web3 focuses on decentralization, user ownership and control, and interoperability. As we transition from Web2 to Web3, the opportunity to develop better web protocols is now possible.

During the transition, we can expect some of the biggest impacts to be in the area of messaging and how messaging is used. Since traditional protocols were designed for Web2, they do not have the capabilities needed for Web3. Thus, XMTP was created.

So, what exactly is XMTP, and how does it work?Let’s

What Is XMTP?

The new Extensible Message Transport Protocol (XMTP) provides a network and standard for secure and private messaging between blockchain accounts. XMTP is used on messaging applications to provide users with essential features such as a decentralized network, interoperability, blockchain account support, and user ownership.

XMTP and XMTP Labs are currently focused on helping developers by providing initial networks, documentation, and guides on implementing XMTP on their decentralized applications (DApps).

XMTP is gaining support from big tech corporations. To understand how powerful and useful XMTP can be, you can try it out in Coinbase Wallet, Converse, CyberConnect, Lens, Unstoppable Domains, and any DApp using the Lens protocol.

How Does XMTP Work?

XMTP works in three layers, namely, the application layer, the client layer, and the network layer.


  1. Application Layer: The application layer comprises client apps made using the XMTP client SDK. This client SDK embeds the XMTP message API client used to communicate with the client layer. Since XMTP is interoperable, you can use any app developed with the client SDK, such as Converse, Coinbase Wallet, Lenster, and any Lens app available.
  2. Client Layer: This layer comprises XMTP message API clients from the application layer. This layer of XMTP is responsible for creating blockchain-based identities with public and private keys, encrypting and decrypting messages and invitations, encoding and decoding message content types, and submitting and retrieving all key bundles and encrypted messages and invitations.
  3. Network Layer: The network layer of XMTP is what makes this protocol decentralized. Unlike traditional Web2 messaging, where servers are all owned by a single platform, XMTP utilizes a network of server nodes owned by multiple entities. These entities can be any person who participates in building the network by running the XMTP node software on their computer.

That all sounds very well and good, but what are the benefits of using an XMTP-enabled app?

4 Benefits of XMTP Messaging Apps

Messaging using a smartphone
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As discussed earlier, Web3 significantly changes how we use the internet and how it operates. XMTP adheres to the Web3 standards by making messaging convenient, secure, and decentralized. XMTP does this by providing messaging apps advanced functionalities that users will benefit from, including:

  1. Decentralization: XMTP decentralizes messaging by providing and assigning XMTP nodes around the world. Using server nodes negates the need for a centralized server, ensuring that no small minority controls how we communicate with each other.
  2. Interoperability: XMTP allows different platforms, applications, and services to interact seamlessly. With no single entity owning a network, no one can force you to use a single messaging app. This means you can now message anyone, even if they are using a different messaging application or service. Once XMTP gains mainstream adoption, you should be able to choose any messaging app, such as WhatsApp, to message someone through Messenger, Gmail, Discord, Viber, or any other messaging app or platform that uses XMTP.
  3. Identity Ownership: When you create an account for WhatsApp, Snapchat, or any popular messaging service, you essentially borrow an account from their platform. With XMTP, you own your account and all the data it produces, including your inbox. This provides safety for users, as they can always request their encrypted inbox from an XMTP node, not the platform. So, even if a messaging service shuts down or decides that they don’t want you on their platform, you can switch to a new messaging app and still have your old account and all the interactions you had in that account.
  4. Convenient Money Transfer: Although XMTP isn’t blockchain, it supports blockchain accounts. By creating a proxy XMTP account connected to your Coinbase wallet, users can now send and receive digital blockchain currency safely and conveniently using their preferred messaging application.

In short, XMTP enables much greater integration of messaging services into modern Web3 apps, bringing crypto, blockchain, and messaging closer.

Should You Switch to An XMTP DApp?

Question mark using low exposure
Image Credit:Emily Morter/Unsplash

With the many advantages of XMTP, it is quite tempting to switch to an XMTP-supported messaging app. However, since XMTP is still a new protocol, users will encounter problems should they use an app built on XMTP.

Many of the big messaging platforms we currently use, such as WhatsApp, Messenger, and Snapchat, do not currently support XMTP. Without interoperability among these platforms, XMPT-supported apps can’t connect to these Web2 messaging applications. So, if you switch to using an XMTP app right now, you won’t be able to use that app to connect with anyone using any of the popular messaging apps we use today.

Furthermore, XMTP is currently using a distributed network, not a decentralized one. XMTP Labs own the two XMTP servers that are currently available. These servers are meant to jump-start the XMTP network while they work on spreading server nodes. So, until their decentralization phase begins (very soon), using XMTP won’t be all that decentralized.

Although the protocol itself is already solid at this stage, XMTP still needs to go through its decentralization phase and have wider adoption to appeal to the majority of the population.

The Future of Decentralized Messaging

As we transition from Web2 to Web3, we can expect XMTP and other decentralized internet protocols to gain larger adoption from developers across the globe. DApps are likely going to be the standard mode of two-way communication. And since blockchain accounts are required to create proxy identities for DApps, we might even see smart contract-enabled cryptocurrencies gain even more investors in the long run.

Transitioning from Web2 to Web3 will likely be a slow process. Until then, keep your WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Messenger apps installed on your phone while you play with DApps and wait for its mainstream adoption.

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