Telegram, the encrypted messaging platform with 180 million monthly active users, is set to launch a blockchain platform and native cryptocurrency within its popular app.

Integrating cryptocurrency payments into existing messaging apps is becoming an increasingly popular move. Moxie Marlinspike, the creator of Signal, is working on the MobileCoin project. Kik launched the KIN token in a massive token sale as the first step in the rollout of the KIN Ecosystem. TransCrypt, a project unaffiliated with Telegram, is working on developing a cryptocurrency payment platform using Telegram’s open source code base. The developers behind these apps understand that the union of payments and messaging is a potent pairing. WeChat, a notable example, has become one of the most commonly accepted payment methods in China, the most populous country in the world.

The move here is to bring these technologies into already existing user bases numbering in the tens of millions.

This is not only a clear market entry strategy for these projects. Telegram and Signal are expanding upon their current philosophies of secure methods of communication for all individuals by effectively adding commerce into the equation. This is a natural progression seen with the advent of the Internet and its underlying protocols: the ability to communicate and send messages securely precedes the ability to transfer value securely. That was the birth of commerce on the Internet.

In an exclusive with Techcrunch, Telegram provided some details on the Telegram Open Network (TON) and its components, including third-party applications and services, a native DNS, micropayment capabilities, and unique features of the third generation TON Blockchain. Some of these features include a master chain/child chain environment, an “Infinite Sharding Paradigm” for scalability, “Instant Hypercube Routing” for maintaining speed with network growth, and a proof of stake consensus protocol.

The native cryptocurrency of TON will be the Gram.

The blockchain platform and the Gram currency will be launched via an initial coin offering (ICO). Reports suggest that the sale will only accept fiat currency rather just cryptocurrency or a combination of the two as seen in most ICOs. Some are projecting the private pre-sale to raise up to $500 million, which would make it the largest fundraising event in the blockchain space (and perhaps any industry), with the Tezos $230 million raise next in line. A public sale will soon follow.

The first part of TON’s release will be the minimum viable product of TON, including the Telegram External Secure ID, set to launch Q1 2018. The Telegram Wallet is being slated for Q4 2018 release. The other major components of the TON ecosystem will be released throughout 2019.

While the TON whitepaper is not yet available for public perusal, if founders Pavel and Nikolai Durov (and presumably a host of developers) can roll out and successfully implement a next-generation blockchain ecosystem around their existing service and massive user base, then that could make the Gram and the Telegram Open Network one of the most widely used cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms.


Image via AdobeStock


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