Telegram to put brakes on public ICO for its Gram token

More rumours that the messaging app will not risk falling foul of US regulators by selling Gram tokens to Joe (and Josephine) Public.

Reports in the The Wall Street Journal (sub req) – based, it must be noted, on ‘sources’ – appear to confirm earlier rumours that messaging service Telegram will not be opening its Initial Coin Offering to the public for a good while yet. Thus, purchasing its proposed Gram tokens, the cryptocurrency that will eventually drive its (also proposed, and not yet functional) Telegram Open Network (TON) of decentralised applications, will remain the reserve of relatively few high-worth accredited investors for the foreseeable future.

With ICOs and various so-called ‘altcoins’ under increasing scrutiny from US regulators regarding the points at which their function becomes analogous to that of a security, it would appear that Telegram has decided to back away from selling Gram to the general public for now. Truth be told, Telegram has not yet sold a single Gram token to anyone as of now. It’s actually been selling the promise of Grams later, allowing early investors to stock up at below-RRP prices for when TON is actually up and running and the token has some actual utility.

Its wildly successful pre-sale, essentially of what the IT industry used to pejoratively describe as ‘vapourware’, has so far netted the company $1.7bn from a relatively short list of whale investors – reportedly well under 200 in number thus far. Despite the limited list of backers, that’s a funding figure well in excess of the $1.2bn the firm reportedly targeted for Gram’s pre-sale, making it by far the biggest ICO of all time in terms of revenue already.

This means that Telegram simply doesn’t need to jump through the regulatory hoop associated with opening its ICO to consumers right now – and has likely chosen to postpone doing so. This avoids a lot of regulatory and public scrutiny during the development period for its eagerly awaited suite of new functionality.

It bears repeating, though, that we await any formal public announcement regarding the future of the ICO from Telegram itself – or, indeed, of what TON and Gram will actually do.