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EghtesadOnline: Local messaging applications created by private firms which have been successful in attracting Iranian users will receive incentives from the Presidential Office for Science and Technology.

Parviz Karami, advisor to the office, says a special committee for developing information technology, communications and microelectronics is helping the process of developing and upgrading local industries and the incentives to support local messaging apps is in line with this policy, ISNA reported.

Local messaging apps with more than a million active users would be eligible for 10 billion rials ($264,000). If the number of active users reaches two million, the firms can apply for an extra 10 billion rials. If the number rises from two to five million, the application owners will receive another 10 billion rials.

In short, if a local messaging application expands from a million to 5 million active users, it will get a total of 30 billion rials ($790,000), according to Financial Tribune.

"This is an ex gratia payment," the official said, adding that companies receiving the grants need not repay.

While the government is introducing measures to help local messaging applications gain traction among Iranian users, there is still a long way ahead before local apps can catch up with their foreign peers.

There are an estimated 50 million Iranian users active on messaging applications such as Telegram, WhatsApp and Imo.

In May 2016, Iran's High Council of Cyberspace, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, said popular online messaging networks have a year to move their servers to Iran.

Foreign messaging applications that are in high demand in the country will have to function in a way that all data storage and activities related to Iranian users are undertaken inside the country.

The High Council of Cyberspace on Saturday tasked the Telecoms Ministry with creating a workgroup to define the terms and conditions for granting permits to local messaging applications with the aim of simplifying the process and cutting red tape.

Furthermore, the judiciary is given a two-month deadline for defining and creating the guidelines for such applications to, among other things, uphold the privacy of Iranian users.

Iran Messaging Apps Parviz Karami