Telegram planning US$1.2b initial coin offering

NEW YORK • Telegram is planning the largest initial coin offering (ICO) ever.

The messaging service is planning to raise US$600 million (S$794 million) in a private sale of tokens to use in its Telegram Open Network blockchain before next month and an additional US$600 million in a public sale of tokens starting in March, according to an investor proposal seen by Bloomberg News.

The US$1.2 billion sale would be the largest ICO by far, topping the US$257 million raised by Filecoin last year.

While start-ups raised more than US$4 billion last year through ICOs, the proposed Telegram sale comes as prices of digital tokens have tumbled this year amid rising concern of increased government regulation and even outright bans.

Not only is the amount raised ambitious, the project also aims to become the digital asset that will finally be adopted by the mainstream for payments. It includes the construction of multi-blockchain architecture that can withstand transaction volumes and speed to compete with Visa and Mastercard, according to offering proposals.

ICO participants would be investing in a contract that secures the right to receive tokens once they are listed in cryptocurrency exchanges. Telegram expects its tokens, which will be called Grams, to be listed in January next year, or the end of 2019 at the latest, according to the documents.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Telegram planning US$1.2b initial coin offering'. Print Edition | Subscribe