The news was confirmed by two individuals familiar with the project, an investor and an affiliate with TON labs. There has been a high level of secrecy around the project, and some analysts have previously raised concerns regarding the lack of activity from Telegram on advancing its proposed blockchain. Francois Pouliot, a prominent crypto analyst, said, “Is the real use-case of blockchain technology the elaboration of mechanisms to launder money via shady public financing schemes?” However, today’s reports appear to have appeased those fears.
Telegram was the talk of the industry when it raised $1.7 billion USD in 2018 in order to finance the project through two unique initial coin offerings (ICOs). However, these ICOs were highlight secretive, with investors having to sign non-disclosure agreements, and Telegram itself is yet to publicly confirm any details about TON. The purchase agreement stated that “buyers of grams may not offer, pledge, sell, swap, encumber or dispose of their tokens, directly and indirectly,” adding to the mystery surrounding the project.
Despite these clauses, a secondary market quickly sprung up for sale of TON tokens even though the cryptocurrency was yet to be made public. This shadow market saw investors make returns as high as 400%, mostly due to the intense interest around the project. Initially sold for $0.37 USD, TON tokens were fetching prices of $2.00 USD in secondary sales. However, another clause in the ICO stated that Telegram must launch TON by October 31 or else refund its investors, so today’s reports are welcome news for all involved.
Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app, similar to WhatsApp in format but with supposedly higher encryption capabilities. The company was founded by self-exiled Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013.
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