Telegram, the most hyped ICO in the history of ICOs, is finally making its tokens available to retail investors through a limited listing that will precede a full sale later this year — but there are a lot of catches.
The messaging company, which serves as the de facto chat app for the crypto community, raised a record-high $1.7 billion last year through a token sale that was limited to accredited investors. The listing saw unprecedented demand despite a project which, some industry critics argued, recycled old ideas and proposed unmeetable goals.
Now its Gram token will go on sale to regular crypto buyers for the first time next month through a listing on crypto exchange Liquid on July 10. The arrangement is a limited offering before a full public sale in October, but the U.S, Korea and Japan are among countries where it will not be sold.
It’s notable that Liquid, which recently claimed to have raised funding at a $1 billion valuation, hasn’t struck a deal with Telegram directly. Instead, it has agreed to list an undisclosed number of tokens held by Gram Asia, an organization headquartered in Korea that claims to be the largest holder of Grams in Asia. For now, neither side is saying how many will be on offer and at what price.
Indeed, the press release announcing the deal includes no contribution from Telegram — there is, for example, no quote from its reclusive CEO Pavel Durov — and it sources two media reports to claim that Telegram’s beta program on its testnet is apparently working as planned.
That’s a pretty strange situation, even for the world of crypto, since it is convention for companies to endorse sales and partnerships.
“Unfortunately, that’s Telegram and how they have operated from the beginning,” Liquid CEO Kayamori told TechCrunch in an interview this week.
Kayamori said that TON is on track to make a full launch as early as October and that this partial listing from Gram Asia is part of that overall strategy.
Sure, that’s the rhetoric, but it is easy to assume other reasons behind the sale. Such as that Gram Asia is cashing in on anticipation of the full launch or, worse, that the group is dumping its tokens before a product.
Kayamori claimed that isn’t the case.
“A public sale was always planned for the window between the testnet launch and mainnet [full] launch,” he said. “They wanted to work with a regulated exchange to see how it goes before it gets listed [in full] in October.”
“Telegram already has an ecosystem, developers and early token buyers and TON ventures, there are already communities being built up. Based on discussions within these communities, GRAM Asia has put its best step forward to do this public sale,” Kayamori added.
The “regulated” part is important.
One of the reasons Telegram kept quiet during the token sale was to avoid running into legal problems, such as those that fellow chat app Kik is experiencing right now. That caused plenty of issues at the time — with scammers cashing in on demand and token buyers themselves left confused — and the approach means there are many caveats around the sale on Liquid.
Most notably, the Gram tokens will not be tradeable.
Buyers will essentially buy tokens from Gram Asia which, until the tokens are released in October, will be held in USDC — the stable coin backed by Coinbase among others. Only when the distribution process begins will the buyers receive their tokens, but the process itself will be divided into four tranches with one-quarter of the buyer’s tokens distributed every three months.
Kayamori conceded that there may be unofficial over the counter trading, but Liquid “can’t control” that.
The exchange will require rigorous KYC for prospective buyers, and there is a significant list of countries where Gram tokens will not be sold, and that includes the U.S. and Japan.
Liquid doesn’t have anything like the volume of top exchanges Binance, OkEx and others that do more than $1 billion in trading daily — Coinmarketcap data ranks it 83rd with over $900 million traded over the last seven days — but it tries to stand out with a focus on regulation. That’s to say that it adheres to regulation in markets like Japan, the bet being that some companies will prefer that approach for their token sales or buying.
That’s worked in terms of this deal with Gram Asia, but it remains to be seen whether it can go from a splashy partnership to one that actually drives significant trading, user engagement and new sign-ups.
For Telegram, the Liquid listing will be an early but limited look at the market’s appetite for its token.
It’s no secret that the cryptocurrency market cap has grown faster than the broader crypto industry. This means that the options for tools to help hold, track and manage your cryptocurrency are still pretty slim.
CoinTracker is one of the recently launched startups trying to help. Part of YC’s Winter ’18 class, it’s a platform to track your crypto across all exchanges, wallets, and even currencies. Today most crypto-enthusiasts try to do this using complicated and bloated Google spreadsheets. But that only works if you’re meticulous about recording each transfer and trade and have been so since you made your first crypto purchase.
CoinTracker tries to automate this process. You start by connecting its to every exchange you use (they currently support 13), but can also add the public address to any wallet that holds Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dogecoin and it will automatically read the balance and update it in your portfolio. If you hold other coins (they support and pull prices for 2,000+) you have to enter those manually, inputting how much you paid for them and on what date.
Having its hands in all of this transaction data allows CoinTracker to essentially detect when you transfer crypto between different exchanges or wallets, which means it can keep track of the cost basis and capital gains of your whole portfolio, regardless of where your crypto is being held.
Keeping track of cost basis and capital gains allowed CoinTracker to create another sought after feature, which is the ability to optimize tax filings by computing capital gains reports using FIFO, LIFO or HIFO accounting.
This tax feature launches today, starting at $29.99 for a tax report of less than 100 transactions and pre-populated IRS Form 8949, all the way up to $999.99 for unlimited transactions including prior years. The existing features, which are syncing with exchange wallets, showing you your performance over time and collating your transaction history into one list will remain free for anyone to use.
The service is by no means perfect, especially for those of us who have been involved in crypto since before 2017 and have transactions and coins scattered across dozens of exchanges (some of which are now shut down). It’s also missing a few key features depending on which exchanges you link – for example, Gemini doesn’t provide CoinTracker with withdraws or deposits, meaning your cost basis history is a little out of whack.
But it’s a good start, and likely will be near perfect if you’re an average crypto investor who got involved sometime in 2017 and only have a few different currencies across a few major exchanges.
The site also has a price list of the top 100 coins (basically an alternative to coinmarketcap.com) and is working on an investment offering where users can invest in a basket of the top cryptocurrencies.
CoinTracker’s tax feature launches today, and you can check it out here.