Amid the frenzy around ICOs, the fundraising phenomenon that has ‎raised more than $3.5 billion in 2017 for startups, many of these ‎projects were little more than a few ideas enveloped into a short white ‎paper. ‎Yet, 2018 promises to be different as serious entrepreneurs are ‎getting ready‏ ‏to hop on ICO bandwagon with fresh offerings focused on ‎building transformative technology.‎‏ ‏

One prime example is the popular chat app Telegram, which says it ‎expects to surpass 200 million users in 2018. The WhatsApp competitor has ‎become the latest company looking to join the blockchain craze by ‎selling digital tokens that could raise as much as $500 million, according to a ‎white paper seen by tech news site TechCrunch. ‎

The roadmap states that Telegram would use the fundraising to ‎create its own blockchain payments system, dubbed the Telegram Open ‎Network (TON), which is expected to be operational by the end of ‎‎2018.  Encrypted messaging startup plans to raise money by selling a ‎native cryptocurrency or token called “Gram,” which would serve ‎as a payment companion to its messaging service.

The approach ‎mimics a system used by the popular messaging app in China WeChat, but ‎with keeping the token free of government oversight and be hosted on ‎decentralized servers.‎

Telegram’s initial coin offering is also notable because it is pioneering a ‎new method for holding a token presale that allows institutional investors to ‎buy Grams in bulk, on a sliding ‎scale starting at $0.10‎, in exchange for fiat currency. Telegram is taking this approach to their ‎fundraising although many institutional investors feel uncomfortable with ‎the complicated nature of purchasing and securing tokens, as well as ‎price manipulation.‎

The TON white paper goes on to outline a four-stage plan:‎

‎“TON Services” will be a platform for third-party services of any kind that ‎enables smartphone like friendly interfaces for decentralized apps and ‎smart contracts.‎

‎“TON DNS” is a service for assigning human-readable names to accounts, ‎smart contracts services and network nodes. With TON DNS, accessing ‎decentralized services could be like “viewing a website on the World Wide ‎Web.”‎

‎“TON Payments” is a platform for micropayments and a micropayment ‎channel network. It aims to be used for “instant off-chain value transfers ‎between users bots and other services”. Safeguards built into the system ‎are designed to ensure that these transfers “are as secure as on-chain ‎transactions”.‎

The “TON Blockchain” will consist of a master chain and 2-to-the-power-of-‎‎92 accompanying blockchains. Its most notable aspect is that it will have an ‎‎“Infinite Sharding Paradigm” to achieve scalability. Thus, TON blockchains ‎aim to be able to “automatically split and merge to accommodate changes in ‎load”. This would mean new blocks are generated quickly and “the absence ‎of long queues helps keep transaction costs low, even if some of the ‎services using the platform become massively popular”.‎

Kodak also jumps on bandwagon with offering for photographers

A highly anticipated ICO from the former camera and film giant Kodak is ‎also setting the cryptocurrency community astir.

Kodak is working with a ‎strategic partner called WENN Digital to develop a blockchain-based ‎ecosystem for image rights management, dubbed KodakOne. The ‎cryptocurrency denomination of KodakOne would probably be the ticker KodakCoin. The ICO is planned to kick off on January 31, 2018 and will be open to ‎accredited investors from the US, UK, Canada and other selected ‎countries.‎

KodakOne is taking the approach to develop a digital ledger of rights ‎ownership for photographers. The most interesting innovation from a user ‎perspective is the integration of an encrypted system to register both new ‎and archive work that photographers can then license within the platform. This ‎highly decentralized platform provides a very efficient means of ‎communication and is also intended to evolve into the de facto payments ‎system of photographing industry.‎

The secure ID protocol of KodakOne means that the platform could be promoted as KYC-AML policy compliant, which could help to overcome the hurdle of securing a regulatory approval. The protocol ‎will work in a way that after passing an identity verification, the participating ‎photographers, professionals and amateurs can be paid in KodakCoin ‎when licensing their work on the KodakOne platform.‎

Kodak CEO ‎Jeff Clarke further noted:

 For many in the tech industry, ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ are ‎hot buzzwords, but for photographers who’ve long struggled to assert ‎control over their work and how it’s used, these buzzwords are the ‎keys to solving what felt like an unsolvable problem.

Kodak has always sought to democratize photography and ‎make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography ‎community an innovative and easy way to do just that.

It is worth following to see how Telegram and Kodak ‎ will leverage their ‎experience in the respective industries to figure out innovative ways ‎to profit off the rise of cryptocurrency activity.‎