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Interdepartmental Digital Directorate (DINUM) set out in late 2017 to develop a secure messaging service for members of the government to communicate safely.

Their reasoning is that the mainstream encrypted messaging applications were deemed not suitable for a government-wide messaging solution. These centralised, proprietary apps would keep French government data within their own systems

The Patriot Act creates ambiguity, and the providers’ business models were not suitable for government use. We saw them as consumer-grade solutions.”

It’s choice: Matrix; a decentralised communication protocol developed with interoperability and privacy in mind. Element, whose founders also lead the open source Matrix project, helped DINUM deploy the Matrix-based Tchap solution.

It went live in April 2019 and was rolled out across all ministries. By March 2020 Tchap had around 80,000 daily active users,

Within weeks, the user base doubled to 160,000 with the coronavirus pandemic, vast majority of France’s civil services switch to home-based working.