Popular messaging application Telegram is planning to launch an ICO and its own cryptocurrency, according to a report in Techcrunch, which cites a whitepaper that it has reviewed portions of.
The tokens will be called ‘Grams’, and the blockchain is to be called ‘TRON’. The Durov brothers, founders of Telegram, are apparently considering a total token value of 3-5 billion USD, and a pre-sale of 500 million USD.
With this move, Telegram is taking a leaf out of the book of WeChat – the Chinese messenger service that has become a popular payment platform too. In fact, Bloomberg reported in September that the Chinese government’s crackdown on cryptocurrency is leading millions to migrate from WeChat to Telegram; they had been using the WeChat platform to circumvent the ban on cryptocurrency exchanges.
According to the whitepaper, the system will be released in four stages: TON services, TON DNS, TON payments, and the TON blockchain.
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The blockchain will be a third-generation proof-of-stake based blockchain, meaning that it will not rely on mining to generate currency as Bitcoin does. 5 billion Grams will be created, of which 4% (200 million) will be reserved for the development team, and at least 52% held by Telegram to regulate the number of tokens in circulation.
The ICO could come as soon as March, according to the report.
Telegram is a cloud-based messaging application with which users can exchange messages and media files. It differs from WhatsApp because of its emphasis on privacy – users can converse in ‘secret chats’, with which messages can only be viewed on the device to which they were sent, and cannot be forwarded. Users can also opt to set a self-destruct timer on messages, much like Snapchat.
Telegram was launched in 2013, and as of December 2017 had 180 million users. It accounts for approximately 40% of the internet traffic in Iran – the Iranian leadership blocked access to the application last week, claiming that it was “kindling the fire of the battle”, according to The Telegraph.