Telegram to Hold a Partial Public Sale via Liquid Crypto Exchange

Messaging app giant Telegram’s gram token, previously sold to accredited investors in one of the bigger ICOs of 2018, is finally going on public sale, a press release confirmed on June 11th.

According to the news, a limited sale of the gram token will be hosted by cryptocurrency exchange Liquid from July 10th.

The offering comes before a full public sale planned for October. However no further details about the sale have been disclosed to the public. The sale will ensue via Gram Asia, which claims to be the largest holder of gram tokens.

Prior to this, grams have been sold only to accredited investors in Telegram’s massive two-phase private initial coin offering (ICO) back in February and March of 2018, which subsequently raised  around $1.7 billion for its Telegram Open Network (TON) project and was by far the largest fundraise made via a crypto token offering.

The Telegram Open Network (TON) was an ambitious blockchain project with the goal to decentralize multiple facets of digital communication, varying from file sharing to browsing to transactions.

According to the gram sale page on Liquid’s official website:

TON brings speed and scalability to a multi-blockchain architecture that addresses the need for minimal transaction times and airtight security.”

Liquid CEO Mike Kayamori has stated in the press release that:

“We share the vision for a more secure and open value transfer system in order to enable the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.”

He further added that the TON blockchain infrastructure could help boost Telegram’s current capacity as well as efficiency as a peer to peer network of value, with the launch of their cryptocurrency light wallets for Telegram’s highly engaged user base.

Meanwhile, the sale is open to all investors globally; however it excludes several nations including the U.S. and its territories as well as Japan, most likely due to regulatory reasons that the token could be considered a security within those jurisdictions.

Investors interested in participating in the sale on the Liquid platform can purchase grams with either U.S. dollars or the USDC stablecoin. According to the official website, a full token launch is expected at the end of October.

Notably, any gram tokens sold in the upcoming offering will not be immediately tradeable.

“The tokens being sold will not be released until after TON goes live (mainnet release), in accordance with the delivery schedule. Purchasers will not be able to transfer, withdraw, or trade the Grams before they are released.”

This news comes roughly two weeks after Telegram released a testnet version of the TON client, which itself follows an extensive development process and the Q3 launch date.

As of press time, Telegram has not released any official comments regarding the news.

Blockstream Launches Security Token Platform

Blockchain infrastructure firm Blockstream has announced the launch of its security token platform – called Liquid Securities. The news was announced in a press release at CoinDesk’s Consensus conference 2019 on May 15th.

According to the release, the new Liquid Securities platform is presented as a solution for businesses to issue security tokens on the Liquid Network. It is the first product Blockstream has launched alongside with its Liquid Network sidechain.

Launched in October 2018, the Liquid sidechain is an auxiliary network built on Bitcoin, with the goal to enable low-fee, low-latency transfers between exchanges as well as offer better built-in privacy.  The announcement explains that the Liquid Network is a settlement network connecting cryptocurrency exchanges, market makers, brokers, and other financial institutions.

Blockstream has always promoted the potential for digital asset issuance on the sidechain, a possibility which has been now granted as Liquid Securities is joined by multi-blockchain issuance platform TokenSoft, investment platform BnkToTheFuture, United States-based bank Zenus Bank and game development studio Pixelmatic in a collaboration.

Blockstream Chief Security Officer Samson Mow has stated at the press conference that whilst businesses are willing to issue tokenized securities, he strongly believes that platforms such as Ethereum are not the right choice due to their scalability, privacy and reliability limitations. He further claimed that Blockstream’s platform would be better suited for such uses:

Now, with the launch of Liquid Securities, businesses can quickly issue Liquid-based security tokens with the click of a button, and establish sophisticated rulesets to conform to their regulatory requirements with no engineering experience required.”

The Liquid Securities platform will provide users with a graphical user interface where they can set the legislative criteria that their tokens must comply. This information is then integrated into smart contracts on the Liquid Network. In other words, token issuers don’t necessarily need any technical or programming know-how to issue a security token on Liquid Securities.

The platform comes with a variety of issuer controls for tailoring a token to each user’s specific use case. They can, for instance, choose to manage tokens through Liquid Securities’ API or outsource this job to one of Liquid’s partners if it’s too difficult.

This is big for Liquid, to move from something that is used by exchanges toward a more advanced financial network,” Allan Piscitello – director of product management at Blockstream – stated in an interview.

Piscitello further added that one of the benefits of Liquid Securities includes having an asset that is both verifiable and auditable but also private. When issuing a token on Liquid, a company can keep specific details (like supply, allocation, etc.) private whilst allowing a trusted third party to audit operations. This means that enterprises don’t have to trade off privacy for transparency to stay compliant with regulations, all while leveraging “one of the most secure blockchain networks in the world,” according to Piscitello.

Jaguar Land Rover Partners With IOTA To Implement Digital Currencies

UK’s largest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, has announced on Monday that it is teaming up with the IOTA Foundation to test a smart contract which will allow drivers to earn digital currencies whilst driving a car in exchange for data sharing.

The car manufacturing leader is designing and developing smart wallet software to be installed in its fleet of cars, which will include the two new models: Jaguar F-PACE and Range Rover Velar. Both car models have already been equipped with the software. However, no official date for the launch has been revealed yet.

The concept itself is rather simple — drivers will drive their vehicles, and gather useful data about road and traffic conditions. For instance, providing information about potholes locations, traffic congestions as well as the performance of the car. The data will then be shared in real time with local authorities or navigation providers, and in exchange, drivers will earn cryptos for their data sharing.

Furthermore, those earned digital currencies can then be used for making various small payments, such as paying tolls, or parking meters, purchasing a cup of coffee, or paying for electricity at charging stations. According to the announcement, this partnership will further contribute to the “zero emissions, zero accidents, and zero congestion” goal.

IOTA Foundation and its blockchain technology have been a go-to solution for numerous carmakers who wished to enter the world of crypto and blockchain. The foundation is known for its Tangle distributed ledger technology designed for the Internet of Things (IoT). The open-source tech specializes in machine-to-machine learning technology for data transfer and micropayments, all of the features that the new Jaguar Land Rover will offer.

It is no wonder that Jaguar Land Rover decided to turn to IOTA and its distributed ledger tech, combined with the smart wallet, as a method of receiving and sending payments. Respectively, there will be no transaction fees and payments will be faster.

Software Architect at Jaguar Land Rover, Russell Vickers strongly believes that this is only a beginning of greater things to come.

“In the future, an autonomous car could drive itself to a charging station, recharge and pay, while its owner could choose to participate in the sharing economy – earning rewards from sharing useful data such as warning other cars of traffic jams.”

Holger Kother of the IOTA Foundation has stated that the company’s distributed ledger technology is perfectly suited for this purpose — to allow machine-to-machine interaction and payments, for things such as parking, smart charging, tolls, as well as creating opportunities for drivers to earn their own digital money.

Based on market cap, IOTA is the #15 cryptocurrency, and the coin shot up nearly 12% following the news. This is good not only for IOTA investors but also for the crypto community as a whole. It suggests that coins are starting to trade on their own positive developments and not only the whims of their larger peer (Bitcoin).

Blockstack Files with SEC for Its Token Sale

Blockstack, a blockchain-based applications platform launched in 2017, has announced its intent to raise $50 million in a token sale, by filing with the SEC for Regulation A+ crowdfunding exemption.

First Token Sale Filed with the SEC

The token sale, would be operated via a wholly-owned subsidiary, the “Blockstack Token LLC,” and entail the sale of 295 million Stacks (STX) tokens.

If approved, this could be the first token offering that has been registered with SEC. While the move still requires regulatory review, the sale would enable Blockstack to raise capital through the U.S. securities markets.

The Regulation A+ exemption enables equity crowd funding campaigns to offer and sell securities to U.S. investors via two tiers, either for $20 million or $50 million, each over a 12-month period.

The total amount of tokens being offered stands at 295 million. According to the SEC filing, Blockstack will be offering 215 million tokens at $0.12 to its early backers. Another 40 million tokens will be made available at $0.30 each. The final 40 million tokens will be reserved for incentivizing developers building applications on the platform.

Some of the investors that will be participating in the sale include Hardvard’s endowment fund, Lux Capital, Foundation Capital along with other individual investors.

 “The net proceeds of the offering will be used to accelerate the development of its decentralized computing stack and app ecosystem,” the company said in a release.

Previous Token Sale

The company has already raised $52 million in December 2017 by selling 440 million tokens at the time. Investors included Union Square Ventures, Foundation Capital, Winklevoss Capital and Blockchain Capital, among others.

Muneeb Ali, co-founder and CEO of Blockstack, believes this could help the cryptocurrency industry establish a proper framework for both investors and other blockchain startups.

“We’ve been working with securities lawyers to create a legal framework that can enable blockchain protocols to comply with SEC regulations.”

 “This can potentially set a precedent for others in the industry, not just for public offerings, but also as a path to launch new public blockchains and establish a path to bootstrapping decentralized ecosystems.”

According to the filing, Blockstack now employs 21 employees and has $32 million in total assets. The company has launched its native blockchain, the Stacks protocol, and has seen more than 80 decentralized applications built on its platform.

Coinbase Custody Starts Offering Staking as a Service Starting with Tezos

In a blog post published on March 29th, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced a brand new service for its investors – staking crypto assets to accrue value.

Coinbase Custody, which serves as a storage facility for institutional investors, is looking to expand its suite of services to include staking — a means by which Proof-of-Stake (PoS) cryptocurrency networks encourage activity. The exchange will start off with offering staking for Tezos (XTZ).

Proof-of-stake (PoS) is a type of algorithm by which a cryptocurrency blockchain network aims to achieve distributed consensus. In contrast, the algorithm of proof-of-work (PoW) based cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin uses mining; that is, the solving of computationally intensive puzzles to validate transactions and create new blocks.

In PoS-based cryptocurrencies it is required of the users to participate by depositing assets to the network and then helping validate transactions and create new blocks. As a result, they receive payouts much like traditional miners in a PoW system.

Additionally, users who have assets to stake but don’t want to take part in the arduous process can instead delegate their assets to someone else. Participants who choose to stake their crypto assets earn passive income, which ranges from around 5% to 25% annually, depending on the network and the level of participation.

In order to win over institutional investors who might be wary of the risk/reward profile of PoS, Coinbase Custody is assuring its clients that all staked coins will stay in fully-insured cold storage. As such, the exchange will post the necessary bond to bakers out of its own pocket; therefore there is “zero risk” to its custody clients.

Through its offline storage service, investors will be able to participate in networks such as Tezos using Coinbase as a regulated intermediary.

Sam McInvale – head of product at Coinbase Custody – has affirmed that one of the reasons why the exchange is starting off with Tezos and later on following on with other delegated PoS is especially because they are able to keep their clients’ funds in cold storage at all times.

He demonstrated that in the case of Tezos, bakers must post a bond equal to 10% of the total being staked. Hence if a client makes a $100 million worth of XTZ deposit, Coinbase would post a bond of $10 million worth of the tokens to its baker to meet that.

According to the exchange, clients will have the opportunity to make a return on their XTZ, which has been estimated at an annual return of around 6.6%, after all Coinbase fees have been deducted.

Custody clients with Tezos tokens will be automatically delegated from cold storage to the Coinbase baker. However, the exchange does not currently have plans to allow its custody clients to delegate to other external bakers.

Following this announcement, Coinbase revealed as well that it would add similar support for decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) MakerDAO’s governance token Maker (MKR), with further tokens to receive support throughout the year, which Coinbase Custody clients will be allowed to vote on.