Global messaging app Telegram plans to release the mainnet and token for its blockchain-based Telegram Open Network (TON) platform as early as March 2019. The news was revealed to Cointelegraph by a source close to Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov today, Jan. 23.
Telegram — which reportedly counts 200+ million active users per month, placing it among the top ten most popular messaging apps worldwide — raised almost $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds last year for both Telegram and its forthcoming platform TON.
Cointelegraph’s source has emphasized that Durov was reluctant to confirm a concrete date for TON's release and that the March estimate remains subject to change.
According to a separate report from Russian business media outlet The Bell, Durov’s team has told investors that TON is 90 percent ready, but that delays are possible, due to the “innovative nature of the development.”
As reported, details released so far have suggested that TON will aim to function as “new way of exchanging data,” and will be powered by the platform’s native cryptocurrency, dubbed “Gram.”
As reported in May, 2018, the staggering success of Telegram’s pre-sales prompted the company to subsequently decide to cancel a public ICO that had been slated for later in 2018.
Despite rumors that the Russian billionaire and former owner of Chelsea FC Roman Abramovich backed the project, only two entrepreneurs — co-founder of payment service Qiwi, Sergei Solonin, and co-founder of dairy giant Wimm-Bill-Dann, David Yakobashvili — have publicly confirmed their investments to date.
Following news that TON was “70 percent ready” last October, the government of Iran stepped up its restrictions on the messaging app, declaring that any cooperation with the app to launch its Gram token would be considered an act against national security and a disruption to the national economy. Iran has enforced a spate of bans against Telegram since April 2018.
The app has also notably been blocked in Russia — Durov’s birthplace — since April 2018, officially due to Durov’s refusal to share the app’s encryption keys with authorities in compliance with a local telecoms law. According to data at the time of the block, around 10 million of Telegram’s users are based in Russia.