By David Drake
Telegram, an instant messaging cloud-based app, is seeking to transform the way people interact and make payments. Through its proposed blockchain-backed Telegram Open Network – and in conjunction with its cryptocurrency, Gram – Telegram is set to become the first western chat app to offer payment services to users. In doing so, it has become China’s WeChat main competitor.
According to Sheldon Corey, President of Arges Inc. and Worlds Financial Centre, this move will enable Telegram to get a share of the growing funds transfer market.
He says, “Now Telegram is making its play for a more direct share of the $530 Billion money transfer market by offering “Gram”, a way to transfer funds within the Telegram platform, among its 180 million crypto-savvy users. This is a similar approach to WeChat’s internal money transfer service, offered to its 900 million users. Ripple may find that is has chosen to operate on the wrong side of the fence, as other social media platforms inevitably begin offering similar internal money transfer services to their user base; likely further weakening Ripple’s position.”
According to reports on TechCrunch, Telegram has announced that it will raise up to $1.2 billion through an initial coin offering (ICO) this year to set up its blockchain network. The company’s decision to adopt a blockchain powered payment system, in addition to introducing Gram cryptocurrency to its network, is seen by industry players as an advantage.
“Such a cryptocurrency can benefit from network effects that almost automatically come with the Telegram community. If people can in an effortless way send money privately from within their messaging app, then this could be a game-changer given they manage to protect the identity of their users and retain the trust,” notes Gourish Singla, Co-Founder of Shivom.
By launching an ICO, Telegram is seen to be leveraging its 180 million+ user network to raise the highest amount ever crowdsourced since ICOs gained popularity.
“The significant advantage is they can likely start large. Leveraging their network, it is plausible that they can raise the largest amount of money so far any token sale has achieved. But then again the developers have to show that people can trust them, which is always an issue with companies that are located in autocracies. If they can achieve that, Gram will be a sure bet,” Singla adds.
News of the Gram cryptocurrency is already beginning to excite the cryptocurrency community. Some players like Daniel Nam, NPER CEO, are already seeing potential in the new digital currency to disrupt status quo in the coin market.
“We are also very interested in telegram’s open network “TON” and “Gram” tokens. It will surely bring new breeze to the market and will influence existing cryptocurrencies, but it will also take time to become significant as all other cryptocurrencies did,” Nam says.
Disclaimer: David Drake is on the advisory board for most of the firms mentioned or quoted in this article.