Telegram, a messaging app co-founded by the Russian brothers, is preparing to offer its own cryptocurrency known as the Gram by the end of October, reported CNET on Aug. 28. The company wants the Gram to be used as a digital online currency that allows millions of people to send money around the world, similar to Facebook’s yet-to-be-launched Libra cryptocurrency.
The messaging service plans to avail a digital wallet to be used by millions of its users who prefer the app because of its “perceived increased security.” Telegram claims to have more than 200 million users and has become popular among crypto enthusiasts.
Unlike Facebook’s Libra and its partners, Telegram’s work on the cryptocurrency has been kept low key. The company started working on the digital coin in 2017. The company raised $1.7 billion in a private sale, in what is one of the most successful initial coin offerings of all time.
Telegram’s successful, in which only accredited investors participated, is only exceeded by EOS’ one-year-long ICO which raised more than $4 billion.
The Gram coin is reportedly going to be decentralized like bitcoin. Telegram will have no control over it, which will go a long way in escaping the long arm of government regulation. Facebook has faced regulatory scrutiny from several governments in the world, and even the US President Donald Trump joined the choir in calling for the regulation of Libra’s cryptocurrency.
A Top Secret Project
The company is reportedly preparing to start testing its own blockchain, the Telegram Open Network (TON), on Sept. 1. The blockchain protocol, which was developed using money obtained from the successful initial coin offering, is meant to be a universal infrastructure based on its speed of operation and the use of smart contracts.
Smart contracts are self-executing pieces of code that carry out the intended action if pre-defined conditions are met. They were pioneered by the Ethereum network.
According to Telegram’s white paper for the ICO, its blockchain will be able to process transactions faster than Bitcoin and Ethereum, and will even compete with traditional and established payment networks Mastercard and Visa.
The development of the TON network has been shrouded in secrecy and Telegram is not at liberty to publicly speak about the project. There is so far only one operational node, owned by the parent company, that runs on TON’s test network. More users will be able to run their own nodes when the main network is launched on Oct. 31, according to the agreement that investors signed up for when they bought Telegram tokens during the ICO.
If Telegram fails to launch the main network by the end of October, the company will be required to refund the investors, minus the expenses incurred during the development of TON.
Many people have remained interested in TON despite the mess surrounding it. The blockchain network was supposed to be launched in December but was delayed. Many investors began selling their right to future Gram tokens and resulted in the formation of an unofficial secondary market for the cryptocurrency.
This is a direct violation of the investor agreement which strictly prohibits the sale of the Gram token before the official launch.
Telegram On The Move
Telegram has had several scuffles with the law in Russia and Iran. The messaging app was banned in the two countries, prompting protests in Moscow and Tehran in which the protestors were flying paper planes – Telegram’s logo.
At some point, Telegram did not disclose where its offices are located because it had to “shelter the team from unnecessary influence.” Pavel Durov moved around the globe with a team of programmers consisting of 15 core members.