The recently leaked 132-page whitepaper (allegedly founder’s brother and mastermind behind the idea himself) states that: “The Telegram Open Network (TON) is a fast, secure and scalable blockchain and network project, capable of handling millions of transactions per second if necessary, and both user-friendly and service provider-friendly.”
Sounds interesting already, doesn’t it? But there’s even more, the whitepaper continues: “One might think about TON as a huge distributed supercomputer, or rather a huge “superserver”, intended to host and provide a variety of services.”
So to put it in simple words – TON is going to be a new, ‘3-rd generation’ blockchain, more advanced than any current ones on the market (think Bitcoin and Ethereum). We’re talking distributed file storage, anonymous browsing, and crypto-payments – all in one network.
The TON Of Hype Is Real
Imagine having cheap, fast, and private cross-border payments inside an app that’s already the main channel for the global cryptocurrency community. Plus it will include decentralized storage, private browsing, and who knows what else additionally.
Telegram is not a company to joke about such projects. In fact, with its 180M of active users, most of whom are already crazy about privacy and censorship resistance, Telegram seems to be totally capable of launching the first mainstream blockchain.
Telegram’s existing ecosystems that includes bots and 3rd party services could be easily converted into the new blockchain-based chat system. It’s already stated that with TON, Telegram will be handling not just the messages, but also the ID storage, payment information, and smart contracts. Plus, the company issues its own cryptocurrency, the rocket fuel which will power the whole machine.
The new chat cryptocurrency will be called “Gram” and its distribution is planned to be both internal (inside the Telegram app itself) and external (on 3rd party exchangers). This clearly aligns with the rumor that the TON will combine both centralized and decentralized elements (which is better for scaling, according to Durov, Telegram’s CEO).
The future blockchain is claimed to be stable enough to process around 1 million transactions per second. TON will also be based on a dynamic ‘proof of stake’ instead of ‘proof of work’ (unlike Bitcoin) which will be a less energy-consuming way to create currency.
Possible Challenges – Security & Politics of TON
Some governments are already not very happy with the popularity of Telegram (to say the least). With the introduction of Open Network, the company risks facing new political challenges. Also, the security of the system overall will become even more of a priority for the Telegram.
According to the whitepaper, the company has reserved 4% of Gram reserves (200 million) for the development team to avoid future issues. This is, of course, with a vesting period (4 years). Telegram also plans to keep control over “at least 52%” of the entire Gram market to protect it from speculations and maintain flexibility.
On the political side, however, it will be much harder to predict and control the situation. For example, the recent case with Iran protests has shown how delicate political balancing can be for networks like Telegram.
What to expect in the nearest future
We are yet to find out more details, but it’s clear that TON is going to be huge. Unless, as some skeptics claim, it’s a mere “CEO’s way of monetizing Telegram”. The Telegram’s existing scale and audience make it a perfect platform to allow for a quick rise of Gram as a mainstream cryptocurrency. However, there’s not even an MVP of TON just yet, so we’ll have to hold on the horses for now.
So far we know that the revealed Telegram plans include: 1) The launch of the Telegram External Secure ID (Q1 2018), 2) The Release of a TON MVP after it, 3) The Telegram Wallet Launch (Q4 2018) and 4) The complete Telegram Open Network launch somewhere near Q1 2019.
UPDATE (April 11, 2018) – Public IPO: Highly Unlikely
As of this April, Telegram has already raised $1.7B from two private pre-ICO sales. Insider sources believe that the company will scrap the public sale altogether.
This may sound unfortunate, but the truth is – Telegram is not ready to raise money from the public. TON is yet to be built, and no one is receiving grams for now. What Telegram sells now is actually nothing more than IOUs (abbreviation from “I owe you” phrase, an informal document acknowledging debt) for future grams, not the cryptocurrency itself.
Public Telegram ICO may still be announced later this year, as there was no exact date revealed before. Until then, we’ll keep an eye out for the latest news about Telegram and app development overall.
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