Messaging app Telegram is joining the cryptocurrency craze in a big way.
Although nothing has been officially announced, a 23-page document obtained by Mashable claims that Telegram is preparing to launch an initial coin offering (ICO).
Although the document outlines a dynamic token crowdsale in which the token price would be adjusted according to interest, CoinDesk‘s sources claim Telegram plans to raise $600 million to $700 million. Since the same sources claim the company is also looking to collect $500 million to $600 million in a presale (a private sale of digital tokens, typically to larger investors), that puts the total raised at about $1.2 billion.
According to the document, the name of Telegram’s new project is Telegram Open Network, or TON. It’s a multi-purpose blockchain-based protocol that competes with numerous other blockchain projects, and integrates with Telegram’s messaging app.
On paper, it solves several of the key problems of leading cryptocurrencies today, most notably scalability, speed, and governance. On the scalability front, it integrates sharding, a novel approach that would enable fast and cheap transactions even when the network is under heavy load. Sharding is not a new concept; Ethereum’s also looking into it, as are many other cryptocurrency projects, including the upcoming Ziliqa. TON will use a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism that’s also in Ethereum’s immediate roadmap.
The newly formed cryptocurrency would be called gram. A total of 5 billion grams would be generated, with 44 percent of that sold during the ICO, 4 percent reserved for the Telegram team and the remaining 52 percent held as a network reserve.
As for the project’s roadmap, the plan is ambitious and includes a cryptocurrency wallet as well as products such as distributed file storage platform, a VPN, a decentralized app (dApp) platform and a DNS.
Based both on the numbers above and the roadmap, Telegram’s ICO would be the most ambitious to date. The plan to raise $600 million to $700 million in the ICO dwarfs previous records by FileCoin, which raised $257 million in Sept. 2017 and Tezos, which raised $232 million in July 2017.
It would also pit Telegram against a number of high-profile competitors. In the messaging space, there’s Status and Kin. In decentralized storage, there’s Storj. An ambitious upcoming project called Orchid is working on a blockchain based VPN of sorts, and MaidSafe is working on a decentralized DNS.
While Telegram doesn’t have direct experience in the cryptocurrency space, the company is well positioned to pull the ICO off. It’s already the communication platform of choice for many ICOs and cryptocurrency-related chat groups, and has a user base of 180 million as of Dec. 2017, with the primer document for the ICO claiming 500,000 new users are added monthly.
On Dec. 31, 2017, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said there would be “3 big announcements in January” on his public Telegram channel, so we can probably expect an announcement for the ICO soon.