Although the official reasons for banning Telegram in Russia has been named the company’s refusal to show encrypted user messages, as required by Russian law, reports have emerged that officials are more worried about the company’s cryptocurrency.
The news broke after the Russian business daily RBC published an informal note allegedly written by an employee of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Roman Antipkin, to his colleagues:
“This story is not about that, can’t you understand? It is not about [encryption] keys and terrorism (…). Pasha [diminutive for Pavel] Durov has decided to become a new Mavrodi,” Antipkin is quoted as writing, in a reference to Sergei Mavrodi, an Russian fraudster who founded a huge Ponzi scheme in the 1990s.
However, cryptocurrency market is awash with news that the popular messaging app, Telegram has raised $850 million in a presale, the first step toward an eventual token crowdsale. An ICO (Initial Coin Offering), also called token sale or token crowdsale is an innovative way for businesses to raise money.
Similar to an IPO, a company can raise money from thousands of investors – the main difference is that ICO investors get cryptocurrency tokens and not shares in the company. Unfortunately, the lack of serious regulation around ICOs makes them subject to abuse by unscrupulous folks who raise money with nothing more than a whitepaper and a landing page.
Interestingly, many existing businesses are now taking the ICO route to raise money to expand their business, launch new products/services, or to pivot their business models into the blockchain ecosystem. This piece examines some developments hinting that the popular social networking Q&A website Ask.fm might be planning to launch an ICO a la Telegram style.