With the blockchain technology that underpins much of the cryptocurrency revolution proving to have many diverse applications in other industry sectors, new businesses are cropping up all over the place with bold visions of a product or service that utilises the rigidly accurate, wholly inviolable, and largely anonymous blockchain.
One such service is Telegram. Founded by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, Telegram is a combined messaging and payment service that will utilise its own cryptocurrency (the newly developed Gram) as its tender. The intention is that users of the app will be able to make payments, instantly and securely, to friends and family all over the globe, without crippling conversion fees, or cross-border transaction fees, as well as use the cryptocurrency in a digital marketplace. Furthermore, thanks to the blockchain tech, they will be able to use the app to send and store data completely anonymously.
The Durov brothers have been busy peddling this image of the future to potential investors ahead of their Initial Coin Offering, which investors predict could net the company anywhere in the region of $1.2 billion, which would make it the largest ICO sale by a considerable margin.
Telegram is already an established brand, with almost 200 million users operating its encrypted messenger service. Currently funded exclusively by its developers, the ICO would see them recoup their own investment, and provide a new, secure, money transfer system that offers 100% anonymity.
And there’s the rub – there are many who think that Telegram is dangerous. By creating a new blockchain from scratch, decentralised not just from the government (as most digital currencies are), but also from the rest of the cryptocurrency sector, there are very real concerns that it will prove the perfect financial and communications network for everyone from terrorists and paramilitary organisations, to organised crime factions and paedophile rings.
With accusations already abounding that ISIS used anonymous messaging services to plan its attacks in both Istanbul and Berlin, and Theresa May describing the application as a home for terrorists and criminals, it seems that legislators will be keeping just as close an eye on new developments as investors.
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