Telegram's Initial Coin Offering Raises $1.7B

Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, has raised a total of $1.7 billion after its second round of funding, making it the world’s largest initial coin offering to date.

Telegram raised $850 million in March and $850 million in February, the British Virgin Islands-based firm reported, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A total of 94 investors participated in the offering starting March 14. The first round of funding from Jan. 29 to Feb. 13 drew 81 investors.

 “Raising the planned amount is a success for Telegram, given that the bitcoin decline in recent weeks made investors more cautious toward crypto-assets," Gennady Zhilyaev, a former executive of Templeton Emerging Markets Group in Russia, told Bloomberg.

Faster Transactions Sought

Now, Telegram plans to use those funds to develop its own cryptocurrency, Gram, with the Telegram Open Network blockchain. Its goal is to create faster transaction speeds than other digital currencies like bitcoin and ethereum and compete with the likes of Visa Inc. (V) and Mastercard Inc. (MA). (See also: Telegram to Launch Cryptocurrency Blockchain Bandwagon.)

Telegram was founded by Pavel Durov, a self-exiled Russian. The company may be blocked in Russia because it will not provide the country's Federal Security Services, or FSB, with encryption keys. The app now has more than 200 million monthly active users, and the company says about 700,000 new users sign up each day, on average.

Bitcoin’s value has plummeted from its high above $19,000 in mid-December to under $7,000 late this week. (See also: Basics for Buying and Investing in Bitcoin.)

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