The Russian social media giant Telegram’s once-grand crypto plans may be dead and buried, but developers working on a network based on the abandoned Telegram Open Network (TON) are edging closer to launching their own version of TON.
The TON platform, which was to make use of a coin named the gram, was set to become the world’s first true big tech firm-run altcoin – before an eleventh-hour intervention from American regulators effectively derailed it.
And now, from the ashes of the abandoned network, some developers associated with the firm’s project continued working on an offshoot they called Free or Open TON – and have since rebranded as Toncoin.
Per Forbes Russia and the project’s Telegram channel, the project could get a second wind that will see it integrate with the Telegram platform – with some support from key associates of Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram.
The group stated that it had made adjustments to its roadmap, and would seek to launch TON payments, as well as proxy sites and storage by the end of 2022, noting that the project now had heavy-hitting backers and writing:
“We assumed that TON would be of interest to third-party developers and product creators, but we did not assume that it would happen so quickly.”
One developer, Oleg Andreev, was quoted by Forbes as stating that the network was being built in a manner that would let it integrate into the Telegram platform – and would have interoperability with crypto exchanges. He added that its payment system could be used in the gaming world to buy in-game items and currencies and on content platforms.
Forbes added that some 60 developers are currently working on the project.
It also reported that a “source close to TON” had claimed that the VKontakte (VK, Russia’s answer to Facebook, also founded by Durov) Vice President for Social Platforms Andrey Rogozov was expected to join the TON Foundation, a fact that was “confirmed by an acquaintance of Rogozov’s.”
The executive, who worked at VK while Durov was still at the helm, will reportedly “supervise the creation of various products for the blockchain platform” and “has already been interacting with the TON community for some time.”
Durov initially warned the public to stay away from projects claiming to be creating TON-like networks of their own, stating that they did not have his or the firm’s endorsement.
But late last year, he appeared to have a change of heart, writing on his Telegram channel that he “expressed the hope that future generations of developers would one day carry on with our vision of a mass-market blockchain platform.” He wrote:
“I was inspired to see the champions of Telegram’s coding contests continue developing the open TON project. I’m proud that the technology we created is alive and evolving. When it comes to scalability and speed, TON is still years ahead of everything else in the blockchain realm.”
He concluded by stating that it “would have been a shame to see this project not benefiting humanity.”
As reported, Telegram had raised some USD 1.7bn in two pre-sale events, attracting multi-million dollar investments from a number of prominent investors. But as many of these investors were USA-based, regulators eventually intervened, accusing Telegram and its founder of selling an unregistered security in the nation.
Telegram first mounted a legal fight, then eventually caved, forcing the company to reimburse investors.
Some investors blamed Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg for Telegram’s TON failure – claiming that the American had drawn regulators’ attention to the project, incensed that his own firm’s Libra/Diem stablecoin plans were being singled out. One backed Durov to return someday to “kick Zuckerberg’s ass.”