While Facebook’s big cryptocurrency plans have hit a wall with regulators, another big social network, Telegram, is charging ahead with its own digital currency, according to The New York Times.
Telegram has told investors that it is planning to send out the first batches of its coin, the Gram, within the next two months, according to three investors who have spoken with Telegram recently.
Telegram is also planning to make Gram digital wallets available to the 200 million to 300 million global users of Telegram’s messaging application, said the investors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements.
Echoing Facebook’s hopes for its Libra token, which was unveiled this year, Telegram has said the Gram will become a new online currency and a way to move money anywhere in the world.
The scope of Telegram’s ambitions were evident in early 2018 when it raised $1.7 billion from big-name investors, including some of the largest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.
Unlike Facebook, which released public plans for its digital money long before the first token was ready, Telegram has largely proceeded in secrecy. That opaqueness could amplify questions that it will face from government authorities when it makes its tokens public.
“Anyone trying to build this type of token system has to be careful on any number of levels with regulators,” said Richard Levin, who specializes in cryptocurrencies law at the law firm Polsinelli. “I suspect that regulators will take a very close look at this offering.”
In its sales pitch for the Gram, which was viewed by The New York Times, Telegram has said the new digital money will operate with a decentralized structure similar to Bitcoin, which could make it easier to skirt government regulations.
Once Telegram releases the coins, it has said the coins will be governed by a decentralized network of computers that will give Telegram no control over how and where the coins can move.
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