Messaging service Telegram Group Inc., which smashed the world record for selling a new cryptocurrency in February, is on track to raise another $850 million as its initial coin offering extends toward a third month, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Investors are placing sufficient orders in the second round even after the token was priced at more than triple last month’s level, two of the people said, asking not to be identified as the offer is private. Appetite for crypto-assets has cooled somewhat since market leader Bitcoin failed to return to its January highs, they explained.
The comments signal that the ICO is going mostly according to plan for Pavel Durov, the self-exiled Russian entrepreneur who founded the encrypted-chat app with his mathematician brother Nikolai in 2013 and now boasts 200 million users from Iran to Brazil.
The firm, registered in the British Virgin Islands, is finding enough interest among a global pool of investors who have been rocked by a volatile token market and whose skeptics say they doubt the Durovs can meet their goal to speed transactions processing toward a level of Visa or Mastercard.
Telegram raised $850 million from large investors last month, selling rights to virtual coins called Grams at $0.38 apiece, according to a filing. The second round is targeting another $850 million at $1.33 apiece this month, according to the company documents seen by Bloomberg News. Telegram didn’t respond to Bloomberg inquiries seeking comment.
The company is seeking to build is own blockchain network with Gram built-in, enabling much faster transactions speed than rival networks run for Bitcoin and Ethereum. It’s raising funds to build this network, rent servers, boost the number of users and pay operating expenses, the documents say.
The impact of Telegram’s ICO will be “a double-edged sword,” said Darren Franceschini, chief executive officer of Blockchain Technologies Consulting in Canada.
“It will show that there is room for established businesses to join this space with a capital raise of their own,” he said. “It will unfortunately also provide a new sense of possibility amongst others when it comes to their raising capabilities that may further saturate the market.”
Demand in the ICO’s second round is lower than for the first, and some investors were given extra time to produce the funds, two of the people said.
Earlier this week, a Russian regulator said that Telegram must provide its encryption codes to the Federal Security Service within 15 days, under anti-terrorism laws, and may block the messenger should it fail to comply. Telegram had just lost a bid before Russia’s Supreme Court to continue denying access.