Welcome to

An open network for secure, decentralized communication

What is Matrix?

Matrix is an open standard for interoperable, decentralized, secure, and real-time communication over the internet. It is a rather new technology that can be thought of as the successor to email, but it works very similar to iMessage or direct messaging on most social media networks. Matrix has proven itself over the last few years to be a reliable communication tool, and has only gotten more user-friendly over the course of its development. Matrix is capable enough that it can—and should—totally replace any other means of digital communication and it offers a much higher degree of security, simplicity, and functionality.

Strictly speaking, Matrix itself is just the protocol by which clients and servers communicate. In order to use Matrix, we need implementations of both clients and servers. Luckily, just like email, many such implementations and providers exist. As an end-user, you don’t really have to worry about the server part at all. Just like you can pick your email provider, you can use any of the publicly-available Matrix homeserver, which should be reasonably secure. However, for maximum security and privacy, I would highly recommend the bancino.net homeserver.

The most popular and well-known Matrix client application is Element. This client is the one that has the widest system support, and also provides the most feature-complete experience.

In summary:

Why Use Matrix?

Some of Matrix’s features have been outlined above, but here’s a direct answer as to why you should use Matrix over any other communication protocol:

Getting Started

There are many ways to use Matrix. The instructions shown here, however, are opinionated: they assume you want to use the Element client with the bancino.net homeserver. Element offers the best end-user experience, and the bancino.net homeserver offers good security and privacy.

The instructions here only need to be performed once. Once you have an account and have configured it properly, all you need to do on new devices is download the app and log in.

Screenshots are not provided here because although the procedure is the same across all platforms, the apps may look slightly different and have things located in different places.

Download Element

Use your phone’s app store to install the official Element app:

Android iOS
Google Play Store F-Droid App Store
Google Play QR Code F-Droid QR Code App Store QR Code

If you are on a desktop computer or laptop running Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS, Linux, OpenBSD, or any other operating system that supports running a modern browser, you can access the Element web interface online: Element Web. Element does offer a desktop application for Windows, MacOS, and Linux that you can install if you wish, but note that they require additional configuration. The Element hosted on bancino.net is automatically configured to use the bancino.net homeserver. Feel free to bookmark it for quick access.

Create an account

Launch the Element app. It will look a little different on each platform, but the general process goes like this:

Set up Secure Backup

In order to safeguard against losing access to your encrypted messages, you should set up Secure Backup. Secure Backup stores your message encryption keys on the server in a secure manner so that you can log in on new devices and still have access to your messages, even if you lost your old one or are for some other reason unable to use it to verify your new login.

There are other ways to save and load your encryption keys, but this is by far the most convenient and safe. To set up Secure Backup, follow these steps:

Even though the encryption keys are copied to the server, the server cannot read your encrypted messages. This is because the encryption keys themselves are encrypted, and must be decrypted by the security phrase and the security key that you download. The key is not saved on the server, so if you lose the security phrase or key, then all your encrypted messages are lost.

Invite other Matrix users

You’re now ready to start communicating over Matrix. You can invite users to a conversation if you know their Matrix ID. Every user on Matrix has a Matrix ID in the following format:

@username:homeserver.com

Where username is the username that would have been chosen at sign up time, and homeserver.com is the homeserver the other user signed up with. If he or she followed these directions, then the homeserver should be bancino.net. For example, my Matrix ID is @jordan:bancino.net. jordan is my username, and bancino.net is my homeserver. Since Matrix is federated, you can communicate with users on other homeservers if you wish. If you created an account on bancino.net, you aren’t limited to talking to just the users on bancino.net. Provided you know someone’s Matrix ID, you can talk to them, no matter where they live in the Matrix ecosystem. Think of Matrix IDs just like they are email addresses or phone numbers that are unique to Matrix.

To invite a user, locate the + ("plus") button in Element. For Android and iOS, it is in the bottom right of the main screen. For the web interface, it is in the left panel. Then, just input the user’s Matrix ID. You can try searching for users by username, but Element may not handle this properly. For best results, it is recommended to type out or copy in the whole Matrix ID. Users may also share their Matrix ID with you via a QR code, which may make inviting them a little easier, depending on your client app.

If you get invited to a chat, Element will notify you at the top of the screen. You can accept or deny invitations directly from the main page.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions about how to go forward from here, or spot an error on this page, please feel free to contact me. My Matrix ID is:

@jordan:bancino.net

If you were unsuccessful in following any part of these directions and are thus unable to contact me through Matrix, the official Element user guide might be helpful:

Official Element User Guide Element User Guide QR Code

It provides screenshots of the web interface that may or may not also be helpful for the Android or iOS apps.

What's next?

Please spread awareness of Matrix! Pass this message along to your friends and family, and try to convince them to use Matrix for all their digital communication. Matrix works extremely well both in personal and business settings. You can use it to talk to your friends and family, but you can also use it internally at your work to communicate with your coworkers. Talk to your supervisor about employing Matrix in the workplace as well, as an alternative to Slack, Microsoft Teams, or other proprietary communication solutions.

This page is available at the following link, which you're encouraged to share:

/matrix/ QR Code that points to this page

Save your credentials

It is important to store your credentials somewhere safe and secure, such that you won't lose it, but nobody else will find it. You should write down, either digitally or on paper, the following things:


© 2022 Jordan Bancino. You may reproduce this page in any form provided that this copyright notice is retained.