WhatsApp rival Telegram is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency through an ICO that is expected to raise upwards of $500 million to fund its new blockchain. The company wants to create a platform for its more than 200 million users that will allow them to make payments via the Telegram app.
This project has been named the “Telegram Open Network” and will be following in the footsteps of China’s WeChat Pay – Tencent’s immensely successful payment portal that is connected to its social networking app. The Telegram Open Network will in fact be the first of its kind in the West.
However, unlike WeChat Pay, Telegram’s platform will not be linked to a government controlled currency like the Renminbi. The Telegram Open Network will also not be hosted on a centralized server the way the Chinese texting and payment app is.
The expectation in the market is that Telegram’s ICO will beat the record of $275 million which was set by FileCoin’s coin offering last year. The ICO’s presale is planned for early 2018, where its new cryptocurrency tokens – Grams – will be sold on a sliding scale beginning at 10 cents per token. The tokens may also be sold in bulk to institutional investors in exchange for fiat currencies.
Telegram plans to spend 80% of the money generated from the ICO on user growth over the next 3 years.
The company was founded by Pavel Durov, a Russian entrepreneur who also founded VK, the Facebook clone that is hugely popular in his home country. Durov left Russia in 2014 after facing pressure from the Kremlin to control and censor his social networking platform.
He sold his shares in VK at a loss and used that money to fund his new venture – Telegram. He runs Telegram with his team from Dubai.
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