• A few weeks ago, the Telegram white paper leaked. The white paper discusses Telegram’s plans to build a decentralised ecosystem, launch a variety of Blockchain services and, of course, the Telegram Open Network (TON) comes with their own cryptocurrency called Gram. There are various rumours that Telegram is looking to raise at least $500 million in a pre-ICO sale and another $500 million in the actual ICO. As such, it could become the largest crypto raise to date and have a significant impact. However, it all depends on how Telegram will approach their ICO.

    After all, the current trend within the crypto market is to run an ICO with simply a white paper and raise millions to build the vision presented in that whitepaper. More of than not, these ICOs are a scam as we saw last week when Ethereum startup Prodeum disappeared after having raised a huge $11. Apart from scamming investors for an amazing $11, they also performed identity theft, as the ‘founders’ of Prodeum claim they were not aware that their names had been used in the scam. Such scams are a threat to the crypto community and it is time for regulators to start regulating ICOs just as we have regulated IPOs, as I mentioned in my article two weeks ago.

    Personally, I do not believe in the approach of doing an ICO with just a whitepaper and no code. I think a startup doing an ICO should at least have a solid team, all working full-time for the company, have some product development and code on Github available and ideally have a community in place. The plethora of startups doing or planning an ICO, there are over 1400 currently, does not make sense. The majority of these startups will not succeed and investors will lose their money. However, the fact that a majority of these ICOs will fail does not mean that I do not believe in the concept of an ICO. In fact, I think it is a brilliant innovation and we will plan one with dscvr.it as well, albeit only after we have above-mentioned components in place.

    As it seems, Telegram has all these components in place, although we have not seen their yellow paper nor have we seen their code for their Blockchain services they have planned. They do have, however, a loyal community of over 200 million users who send billions of messages. According to below teaser, when they will launch the Telegram Open Network, they will offer each of their users a crypto wallet, thereby instantly making it the most adopted cryptocurrency (although simply offering a wallet does not say anything about the usage of it).

    As a result of their existing user base, they have the possibility to drive enormous traffic to their ICO. The fact that, already, their plans have attracted a lot of attention shows the potential that the planned TON ICO has. Whether they will reach $1 billion is difficult to predict, but I am confident that if they execute their plans correctly, if they launch an ICO that complies with regulation and if they prepare their ICO as meticulously as an IPO, they have a good chance to become very successful.

    When they are indeed doing an ICO according to the books and in compliance with regulations, they can set the example of how to do an ICO properly. This could be a paradigm shift for the crypto world as, hopefully, it could result in regulations required for Initial Coin Offerings to get rid of the scams and enable a truly trustworthy decentralised world. Whether this will happen, we will figure out later this month when they are doing their ICO.

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    Mark van Rijmenam

    Mark van Rijmenam is Founder of Datafloq. He is a highly sought-after international public speaker, a Big Data and Blockchain strategist and author of the best-selling book Think Bigger - Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business. He is the co-author of the book Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World, which details how blockchain can be used for social good. His third book, The Organisation of Tomorrow, will be published in Q1 2019. He is named a global top 10 Big Data influencer and one of the most influential Blockchain people. He has just completed a PhD at the University of Technology Sydney on how organizations should deal with Big Data, Blockchain and (Responsible) AI and he is a faculty member of the Blockchain Research Institute in Canada. He is a strategic advisor to several blockchain startups and publisher of the ‘f(x) = ex‘ newsletter read by thousands of executives.
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