This week the New York Times featured a story about Telegram’s upcoming push to launch the GRAM token. Regulators and some cryptocurrency experts are casting the same eye over GRAM as they have over Facebook’s Libra coin. What the NYT article failed to grasp is that it is not just criminals who are currently using Telegram’s messaging service. These legitimate users will likely welcome the GRAM wallet and cryptocurrency with open arms.
What is Telegram?
Telegram Open Network’s main purpose is to create a platform for the new generation of cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications (DApps). Their flagship project has been its messaging service, which currently has over 200 million active monthly users and was first downloadable in 2013.
Additionally, Telegram is THE go-to messaging app for cryptocurrency enthusiasts as well as blockchain-based global teams. Crypto startups worldwide use the fast, well-performing app for group chats, meeting calls, and resource sharing, among other things. If you work in crypto, there’s a good chance you are already very familiar with the Telegram app.
The app on android alone has over 3 million reviews, averaging 4+ stars.
According to the application’s fact sheet, “Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it’s super-fast, simple and free.” In fact, the plan is to not only keep it free for life but also free from ads. This is in stark contrast with what’s going on over at Facebook, where they made 14.9 billion in ad revenue just in Q1 2019.
Telegram’s big raise
In early 2018, when the ICO boom was alive and kicking, TON raised 1.7 billion through private investors and did not end up going public with their ICO. According to early investors who spoke with the NYT, despite their non-disclosure agreements with TON, they were to receive GRAM tokens no later than October 31, 2019. Some of these investors also signed agreements to delay cashing in or trading their tokens.
Within the upcoming weeks, sources are expecting these investors will receive GRAM tokens. This could be the proverbial opening of the can of worms since Telegram already boasts over 200 million active participants. Many of these users come from within the cryptocurrency industry already.
Telegram’s team is led by a pair of Russian rebel brothers. Pavel Durov, the founder of the widely used VK social media platform in Russia, leads the way for Telegram financially and ideologically. His brother Nikolai supports the Telegram Open Network technologically. Together they’ve led the development of the open, fast, secure data protocol.
The brothers are in what is termed a ‘self-imposed exile’ since events in 2014 led to Pavel’s leaving the VK project. According to news sources, he left shortly after refusing to release data on Ukranian protestors to Russia’s security agencies. He had also refused to block the VK page of a political activist as ordered. Since that time, the brothers have lived abroad and Telegram is headquartered in Dubai.
Is GRAM like Libra?
As the NYT aptly pointed out, the likelihood of GRAM being regulated by government authorities by the October deadline is nil. Yet what the journalist has not grasped is that Telegram has millions of users who are not criminals. And more importantly, Telegram cryptocurrency is slated to operate as a decentralized network. Meaning no one will control the cryptocurrency, except the network rules as they are adopted by users, for free, worldwide.
With Facebook, the intention by Zuckerburg and his potential partners is to be the first regulated cryptocurrency and of course rake in even more profits via transaction fees and financial data.
But like bitcoin, GRAM will be difficult to regulate if it is in fact truly decentralized. In that case, there is no entity to regulate. Not only that, but Telegram has committed to remaining ad-free and secure. So users may be able to have financial privacy, something that has quickly dried up in traditional currencies as they (and their data) have moved to online spending.
The whole world has been watching regulators duke it out with Facebook over their planned global currency. It’s not surprising that governments view the Libra coin as a threat, seeing that Facebook has over 2.3 billion users and plenty of money to pull it off.
Zuckerberg and his team have reiterated how they want to comply with governments and central banks. Not so much with Telegram. The Durov brothers have been working to launch the GRAM token. But it seems they are not in the least concerned with working with regulators. Maybe it has something to do with this statement from their website:
“Making profits will never be an end-goal for Telegram”– Telegram Open Network