Why Telegram Open Network was never launched, and how the platform is developing after the injunction
Since the inception of bitcoin twelve years ago, cryptocurrency has not been able to solve its key task – to become a convenient and affordable tool for an ordinary user. Easier access to exchanges and trading remains the only proven achievement. It is still easier to buy goods and services for fiat, and the technology stack behind blockchain projects is still of interest only to specialists.
At the time of the announcement of the Telegram Open Network (TON), Telegram was already one of the most popular instant messengers in the world, had sufficient potential to introduce new functions, including those related to cryptocurrencies. A significant part of the audience was already well acquainted with digital currencies – the messenger was the main platform for communication and dissemination of news on crypto topics, attracting users around the world with anonymity and security. The launch of the platform's own token could allow the project to become the flagship of the entire crypto industry. And this was understood not only by the Durov brothers, but also by investors.
The fundraising from qualified investors, which took place in two stages in 2018, brought a record $ 1.7 billion to the project, becoming the second largest IPO in modern history – the first place is still held by EOS with $ 4 billion. more than 170 companies and private investors. But there were also skeptics who questioned the possibility of implementing the plan. Libra from Facebook, conceptually very similar to the Durovs' project, could not overcome resistance and was frozen. In such circumstances, the skepticism was understandable.
Gram, the native token of TON, was supposed to become a decentralized digital asset similar to Bitcoin – the absence of a centralized governing body would not allow regulators or any government to set the rules of the game. In the fall of 2019, GRAM was supposed to launch a new economy where goods and services are paid for with cryptocurrency.
On October 11, 2019, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release demanding to suspend the planned distribution of GRAM tokens to investors in accordance with the Securities Act of 1933. After the mutual exchange of documents, the hearings in the GRAM case were postponed to February of the twentieth year, and the coins themselves were prohibited from distribution. The launch of the Telegram Open Network has been pushed back to April 2020.
From October 2019 to May 2020, Telegram was looking for various ways out of this situation, trying different options. For example, it was proposed to distribute tokens among investors who are not US residents, but it was not possible to convince the SEC to lift the bans. Neither the SEC nor the courts could ban the launch of a decentralized project, but the flagship project – the Telegram messenger – could be under threat.
Throughout the entire process, the TON testnet worked and its technology base continued to evolve. A key feature of the network design is smart contracts, which can be executed in parallel due to multi-threading. If we imagine the blockchain as a store, then the representatives of the previous generation are small retail outlets with one cash register. The more buyers, the longer the queue and service time. Next-generation blockchain adjusts to load, opening new checkouts as the number of visitors increases. And it is on this architecture that TON is built. Presenting blockchain as the hypermarket of the future may be somewhat ironic, but very revealing.
TON's technological base has attracted not only investors, but also independent developers who understand the potential and prospects for interacting with the blockchain. One such company was TON Labs, which has been providing solutions for the Ethereum network for many years. The accumulated experience said that there was an urgent need to create an operating system that would make it possible to conveniently communicate with the blockchain and effectively develop its ecosystem.
However, the regulator has its own evaluation criteria, therefore, as a result of months of pressure from the SEC, the Durovs were forced to abandon the further implementation of their project in the spring of the twentieth year. Due to the fact that the project was originally created with open source, anyone could continue to develop it. And such people were found.
Then, in May 2020, a group of companies and crypto enthusiasts, consisting of the largest staking providers, representatives of exchanges and independent developers, decides to launch the blockchain on their own. But this time without ICO, without pre-sale of tokens and external investments. Free TON aims to be an example of a decentralized network – both technically and organizationally. The entire emission of tokens, dubbed TON Crystal, in the amount of 5 billion is placed on three addresses and is intended for distribution among validators, developers and community members contributing to the development of the blockchain.
The distribution of coins is organized through contests and collaborations. Any member of the community can propose their ideas on the project forum, receive comments and wishes from other users, after which the document is sent to a vote. If the idea received support in 50% plus one vote, it is considered approved and subject to further implementation.
Immediately after the launch of the project, representatives of companies and individual enthusiasts who took part in the launch of Free TON took part in the voting. Over time, the community expanded, tenders and proposals became more and more and this mechanism began to experience excessive stress. As a result, a sub-governance structure (from English – sub-governance) was introduced, which are formed from community members united by expertise in a specific topic – be it design, promotion, development of tools for validators, DeFi, and others.
Thanks to the horizontal structure, the entire ecosystem has become more scalable – the number of contests and collaborations has increased, involving more and more people in the development of the blockchain. To date, more than 100 contests have been held and more than 140 million TON Crystal have been distributed.
Despite the obvious advantages of using the subcontrol system, this model is intermediate. The main goal of decentralized governance is the ability of any member of the community to vote for certain decisions with their tokens. The updated model is being developed by the relevant sub-department and will be presented in the summer of 2021.
The Free TON community is in no hurry to bring a mass user to the project, since the current focus is on the development of a technological core, on the basis of which scalable solutions of almost any complexity can be created. At the moment, the mechanisms for creating FT and NFT tokens have already been implemented, an alpha version of the decentralized exchange has been presented, a bridge to the Ethereum network is in the active testing phase. Also in May, a competition for a new Rust node will be launched.
Free TON looks good on paper and is actually quite attractive. An extensive technological base has been prepared, the community is growing, but whether it, professing the principles of decentralization, will be able to make from the project what the Durov brothers originally planned, only time will tell.