The long-awaited cryptocurrency token from instant messaging platform Telegram is allegedly rolling out to investors very soon, but we should remain skeptical.
According to a report from The New York Times, Telegram will be delivering the “first batches” of the Gram tokens to investors by October 31.
Three investors – that have spoken with Telegram – told NYT that the messaging app is planning to make Gram wallets available to two-thirds of its 300 million global users. NYT‘s sources asked to remain anonymous as they have signed nondisclosure agreements.
The informants also told NYT that a test net of the Gram network will be released within the next week or two.
It’s a bold move from the messaging platform. Similar companies, like Facebook and Kik, have faced continued scrutiny over plans for their so-called cryptocurrencies.
Kik’s Kin token has been dragged across the regulatory coals following comments from the company’s CEO to employees that demand would be so great for the token its price would be sure to rise. “Buy today, sell tomorrow, profit,” he said.
As for Libra, it’s been an onslaught of regulatory challenges and scrutiny ever since it officially announced plans for its cryptocurrency. It’s faced Senate hearings, competition probes from the EU, and even early members of its Libra Association are thinking about leaving the project.
Telegram however, has largely progressed unchallenged, mostly because it’s been quite secretive about its plans for Gram.
Compared to the likes of Facebook, there hasn’t been much news about Telegram’s Gram token, even its initial token sale last year was a predominantly private affair.
In May 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Telegram had raked in nearly $1.7 billion by selling Gram tokens to private accredited investors. After the initial coin offering – which remains one of the largest ever – Telegram decided to ditch its public offering.
However, Telegram wants to make Gram a new type currency for use in international payments, which means normal folk will need to be able to get their hands on it. And so far, there haven’t been many ways for individuals to buy Gram tokens directly from Telegram itself.
Circulating Gram tokens have largely come about as early backers and accredited investors sell off their tokens. Something we can expect more of in November, assuming Telegram sticks to its October 31 deadline.
Earlier this year, Asia’s biggest holder of Telegram’s tokens, Gram Asia, ran a sale of its own Gram tokens on cryptocurrency trading platform Liquid.com. According to a report from Bloomberg, Gram Asia sold rights to its Gram tokens for $4.00 a piece, nearly three times the price of the token during its ICO.
As it stands, there is barely a real-world use case for Gram tokens and motivations to buy it have been fuelled by speculation that it will be worth more at a later date. So we should remain skeptical.
What’s more, given the furore surrounding Libra, we shouldn’t expect regulators to let Gram slip through the net uncontested.