Repair your car or do your hair with new Russian app

In addition to chatting with friends, KliChat users can also communicate with businesses to hire a taxi, repair household appliances and office equipment, order a car wash, buy car insurance or consult with a lawyer.

In addition to chatting with friends, KliChat users can also communicate with businesses to hire a taxi, repair household appliances and office equipment, order a car wash, buy car insurance or consult with a lawyer.

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A messaging app developed in Siberia allows users to get things done, from hiring a tow truck, to booking a hairdresser's appointment.

In early August, developers at Novosibirsk's Akademgorodok presented a new messenger, KliChat (in Russian). Unlike other messaging apps, this system offers more services. In addition to chatting with friends, users can also communicate with businesses to hire a taxi, repair household appliances and office equipment, order a car wash, buy car insurance, get a consultation with a lawyer, and much more. 

Client chat

“The real and virtual worlds are merging,” Alexei Penskikh, the lead developer of KliChat, told RBTH. “One can now order a car via a mobile app. The chain has been streamlined by cutting just one link, the call center. This model has turned out to be a hit; for instance, many beauty parlors and other businesses run their bookings through WhatsApp. That gave us an idea of how to transfer the same model to other areas.”

KliChat developers point out that their app is primarily meant for business communications.

In order to communicate with a business via traditional messaging apps, a consumer needs to get the relevant phone number, add it to their address book, then the phone needs to see this number in Contacts, and only then the user will be able to call the company they want, said Penskikh. In traditional messengers, everything gets mixed up together - a user is chatting to friends, and the same inbox receives messages from a bank or a delivery service.”

Thus, the idea was born to improve functionality and streamline the process. The new app currently offers three formats: interaction between users and companies; interaction between users; and interaction between companies.

The mechanism is very simple; companies join the KliChat platform for a fee of $15-45 a year. After verification, they get access to users, for whom the app is free of charge. Users just need to download it from the App Store or Play market. Currently, KliChat has more than 10,000 users.

No fear of foreigners

The Russian Economic Development Ministry recently proposed banning Russian civil servants from using WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and Telegram. The purpose of the proposed ban is to prevent leaks of confidential and classified information.

This situation offers opportunities for KliChat, however, because its servers are based in Russia. “The Russian Presidential Administration has called for developing a messenger with file transfer protection, and KliChat has this feature,” said Penskikh. “We meet all the requirements for safe storage and transfer of data.”

The Siberian developers, however, have no desire to push foreign messengers out of the Russian market. “Competition with foreign companies pushes us to improve our solutions,” Penskikh said. “Also, we operate in a segment of our own, such as interaction between users and services.”

The developers also plan to add functionality for video calls, as well as a payment system to allow users to pay for orders. Once this has been done, they plan to expand abroad.

“We are trying to remove everything superfluous from the product in order to make it even simpler and neater,” Penskikh said.

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