The encrypted messaging app Telegram is poised to launch its own cryptocurrency, backed by a massive initial coin offering, which could reportedly raise $2 billion. The company, however, is not commenting on the reports. Here is what is known so far about possibly the biggest ICO ever.
Telegram Open Network
Telegram is planning to create its own blockchain-based payment platform, the Telegram Open Network (TON), and its homegrown cryptocurrency will be called Gram, according to company’s white paper reviewed by TechCrunch.
The introduction of TON is expected to turn Telegram, which now has some 180 million users, into an entirely new environment for other apps and services. The white paper outlines that the platform will include distributed file storage, a decentralized VPN service and anonymizer, payments and micro-transactions and a TON DNS, a service for assigning human readable names to accounts.
According to the document, the majority of the features will be available by the end of 2018 or in early 2019. The platform, which has been compared to App Store and Google Play, will also be available for other messengers and social networking apps.
TON will also provide virtual IDs and a digital wallet. All personal data will be secured, based on an end-to-end encryption key.
Preliminary data indicates that Telegram is planning an initial coin offering (ICO) in March, but the exact date is yet to be set.
Telegram is seeking $850 million in a private sale of tokens to large investors this month and an additional $1.15 billion in a public ICO in March, Bloomberg reported.
According to TechCrunch, pre-sale investors may be required to place a minimum buy-in of $20 million if they are outside the inner circle of Pavel Durov, Telegram CEO and the founder of the social networking site VK which is the largest networking site in Russia.
Bloomberg reported that investors in the private sale will receive tokens with a 50 percent discount off the initial public sale price and, after the tokens are listed, investors will not be allowed to sell the coins during a period of 18 months. However, the restriction is unlikely to include minor buyers.
According to TechCrunch, Telegram also plans to retain “at least 52 percent” of the entire supply of Grams to protect the cryptocurrency from speculative trading and maintain flexibility. Four percent of the coins will be reserved for Telegram’s development team and the remaining 44 percent will be offered to investors.
Rivaling Visa, MasterCard?
The creators of TON say that the existing cryptocurrencies cannot be easily purchased and used.
In a December interview with Bloomberg, Durov said that he is optimistic about Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, because it’s “digital gold.”
However, neither Bitcoin nor Ethereum (or any other cryptocurrency) cannot rival such payment systems as Visa and MasterCard in terms of convenience due to the slow processing of transactions.
“TON’s third generation blockchain will be based on a dynamic ‘proof of stake’ secured by multiple parties with a high degree of fault tolerance… Instead of relying on proof of work to create its currency, Telegram will rely on a new, less energy-hogging way of mining cryptocurrency than the original Bitcoin method,” TechCrunch contributors wrote.
The claim is that the new platform will be capable of processing around 1 million transactions per second, against three-seven transactions per second with Bitcoin, 15-30 with Ethereum and up to 40,000 via Visa and MasterCard.
In addition, Telegram is reportedly planning to introduce a different approach to the mining process. Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, the number of those who can validate the transactions will be limited to 1,000 at the same time, with so-called “validators” being rotated each month, RBK reported citing an unconfirmed memorandum for investors.
Neither Durov nor other members of the Telegram team have confirmed the rumors. Durov has said to believe the information published only on the official website, Telegram.org.