Interoperability: Communicating securely between messengers

Will we soon be able to communicate seamlessly from one messenger app to another, without any barriers or security concerns? Even between highly secure business solutions and customer messaging apps?

Teamwire, May 15 2024

Could a colleague in the home office exchange data through a different app on her smartphone and still work securely? Can family members use different apps and still chat with each other effortlessly?


This is the vision of many technology companies: to develop standards and technical solutions that enable interoperability. This makes “interoperability” one of the hottest buzzwords in the tech industry right now. What lies behind it? What impact does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have? How will such interoperability change communication for citizens, businesses, and authorities in the future? We are here to reveal all the details.



What is Interoperability between Messengers?

Interoperability refers to the ability of different systems and services to communicate, exchange data, and collaborate with each other without major obstacles.


In the context of messaging platforms like Teamwire, this means that users have the ability to communicate from one messenger service to another without interrupting their communication. For example, from Teamwire to WhatsApp to Signal, without any extra effort or media disruption.



What are the challenges for messenger interoperability?

For us users, it is natural to be able to send an email to any email address and have our electronic mail delivered successfully. This is because all email programs worldwide are based on a common standard: no matter which email address someone uses, your mail will arrive. This enables a unified technical protocol that all email program providers adhere to. Therefore, whether your email goes to Google Mail, GMX, or your own mail server like, all these systems can communicate with each other and correctly display the transmitted data. Simple and convenient for all of us!


Unfortunately, it is different between the numerous messengers. Whether consumer or business messaging app, Threema, Teamwire, WhatsApp, and all the others are self-contained communication platforms. Therefore, they are not interoperable with each other. Many people are familiar with the consequences in their own daily lives: how quickly you lose track when all your friends use WhatsApp, but you rely on Threema yourself. Or at work, how delays or even problems arise when two organizations need to collaborate but use different systems for this purpose.


The cause of all these barriers to seamless communication is that, unlike with emails, there is currently no standard protocol for messenger interoperability. All these systems use different security and encryption protocols. Thus, users remain limited within their respective silos and can only communicate with others in a cumbersome way – for now.




What is the MIMI standard for interoperability?

The solution for the desired interoperability of messenger platforms is a common standard. This enables systems to securely exchange data with each other. However, until now, all messengers have used different security and encryption protocols, which make them incompatible with each other.


This is where the MIMI standard comes into play. MIMI stands for More Instant Messaging Interoperability. It is being developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an international organization dedicated to the technical advancement of the internet, the introduction of standards, and best practices.


The clearly defined goal of the MIMI standard is to enable worldwide interoperability between different instant messaging, chat, and collaboration services. The new standard aims to establish a secure, reliable, and simple connection between different messaging apps and communication services.




What is the basis of the MIMI standard?

The desired widespread MIMI standard for messenger interoperability is based on the MLS protocol (Messaging Layer Security). This is a modern messaging protocol for complete end-to-end encryption of group communication. MLS is highly scalable for thousands of participants and is designed to be independent of the identity system used in a specific messaging service. Additionally, MLS cryptography is expected to be “quantum-safe” in the future. In other words, MLS protects against potential attacks from quantum computers. This ensures the confidentiality of sessions and secure communication of any scale.



When will the MIMI standard arrive?

There are strong indications that the MIMI standard will be finalized and released as planned during the course of 2024. The organizer, IETF, is a voluntary association of IT experts, manufacturers, and users. They have successfully defined the most relevant Internet standards in previous decades.


The political landscape also supports a successful and timely launch of the MIMI standard as the basis for interoperability between messengers. The efforts of the European Union (EU) for greater digital sovereignty and breaking up monopolies and provider silos are also focusing on the MIMI standard and MLS.


Furthermore, an increasing number of communication solution providers are participating in the development of the MIMI standard. Therefore, the planned release in 2024 is quite realistic.


However, the key question for any new standard remains: Will it be adopted? The broad support from numerous providers offers the best chances for successful establishment and widespread use. And that would be a crucial step towards seamless interoperability between different messaging apps, whether they are consumer or business messengers.



How does interoperability change communication?

The introduction of interoperability between messengers can mean a revolution in the way we communicate with each other. Imagine being able to seamlessly exchange messages and content between business solutions like Teamwire, Threema, and Matrix without having to copy the communication or add contacts to each platform.


The same applies to secure communication in consumer solutions like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and potentially between business and consumer solutions. This flexibility could fundamentally change how we interact with our friends, colleagues, customers, and even government agencies.

A Practical Example: Companies


Thanks to interoperability, you can easily continue a business conversation seamlessly from one platform to another. For example, if your company uses a secure business messaging app like Teamwire for internal communication, while your customers prefer Threema, Telegram, and others – no problem anymore, thanks to interoperability. This allows both parties to use their messenger of choice without compromising the efficiency or security of data exchange.

This interoperability brings a significant advantage: communication is simplified, and media disruptions are avoided. This greatly enhances efficiency in daily communication. While it is easier and more convenient for individuals to communicate with each other, it has further implications for companies and other organizations. Poor communication can be costly for businesses, as it can lead to misunderstandings, errors, inefficient processes, and demotivated employees. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact financial loss, studies and expert analyses indicate that the costs can be considerable. Here, interoperability can be a crucial step towards efficiency and higher profits.


A Practical Example: Authorities


Administrative processes require close cooperation with citizens. Requesting missing documents, inquiring about details, and issuing official notices can take up a lot of time for civil servants. Additionally, postage costs and piles of paper filled with confidential information add up.

However, if your administration uses a secure business messenger like Teamwire, interoperability through the upcoming MIMI standard can simplify communication, making it easier, safer, and more efficient with citizens, directly through the messenger of their choice. This way, communication delays or losses are minimized, and matters can be resolved faster, reducing the burden and stress on civil servants. Moreover, the high security standards of messengers compliant with the MIMI standard ensure data confidentiality that traditional letters cannot match. Lastly, the environment benefits with fewer letters translating into reduced paper consumption, lower emissions from transportation, and less wear on roads.



As you can see, thanks to interoperability, you can simply continue a business conversation seamlessly from one platform to another while combining the benefits of digital communication with the traceability and security you require.



What does interoperability mean for companies & authorities?

For companies, interoperability offers an immense opportunity to enhance the efficiency of their communication. Employees can collaborate across different platforms without having to commit to a specific messenger service. This can improve teamwork and facilitate communication with external partners, especially when working with seasonal or intermittent staff who use their own mobile devices or PCs for communication (bring your own device principle).


Another advantage for companies is the ability to simplify the integration of third-party applications. Interoperability allows companies easier access to a variety of tools and services that support their communication and workflow. This could lead to more efficient resource utilization and increased innovation capability.


Authorities also benefit greatly from interoperability. Especially in time-critical or sensitive matters, messenger interoperability enables fast and secure data exchange. Business messenger apps like Teamwire also provide integrated features like alerting, shared notes, or topic-specific group chats, ensuring that all parties are always informed.



What are the benefits of interoperability for authorities & companies?

Fast data exchange and simplified communication are the core elements of interoperability. Additionally, there are numerous other benefits for companies and organizations of all types. Here is an overview of the advantages of interoperability:


  • Quick and targeted information exchange
  • Transmitting larger data volumes (e.g., videos)
  • Accelerating processing times for procedures
  • Preserving data protection and confidentiality even when collaborating externally
  • Reducing dependency on providers
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Saving time and resources on developing standards or even creating a customized messaging solution




Which companies & authorities will benefit from interoperability as a game-changer?

Citizens, authorities, companies, and organizations of all kinds will benefit from easier communication between different messenger apps. However, there are some sectors where the benefits are particularly relevant. These organizations, among others, will benefit significantly from interoperability:


  • Rescue services
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Companies with subsidiaries or business units
  • Companies cooperating closely with suppliers and customers


For these organizations, interoperability will be a game-changer, and for many other authorities, companies, and individuals, it will be a significant relief in their everyday lives.



How does interoperability change communication for individuals?

Individuals also enjoy numerous benefits from interoperability. They can communicate more easily with authorities: both parties can continue using their preferred platforms, enabling seamless exchange with each other.


Simultaneously, all individuals can benefit from simplified communication with government institutions without having to deal with their different systems. Considering the high dissatisfaction of many citizens with public administrations and the long processing times at government offices, this is a long-overdue simplification of bureaucratic processes in Germany.


Data protection and security are also crucial aspects. Thanks to interoperability, individuals do not have to share personal data with various platforms, as they can focus on fewer services. At the same time, employees in authorities, companies, and organizations can ensure that sensitive information is securely and encryptedly transmitted, regardless of the chosen messaging platform.


In conclusion, the introduction of interoperability between messaging apps – whether for businesses, authorities, or individual users – has the potential to fundamentally simplify the way we communicate. The key factor for this is the establishment of a common standard for communication between software solutions, such as the upcoming MIMI standard.


Companies benefit from improved collaboration with subsidiaries, other companies, and organizations. They can also provide better customer service, which benefits all of us as customers.


Administrations and individuals will also benefit greatly from such simplified communication. Cooperation between authorities is accelerated, official procedures can be resolved faster and more efficiently, saving time, nerves, and resources such as postage.


At the same time, interoperability is not only designed to enhance efficiency but also to strengthen data protection and security, as well as simplify digital communication for all parties involved.