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.