Messenger powerhouse Telegram is currently embattled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the company’s $1.7 billion USD token sale of Grams, the native crypto of the in-progress Telegram Open Network, or TON, blockchain.
As that legal fight continues, Telegram has seemingly made a bid to shore up its flanks in the regulatory struggle. On January 6th, Telegram published a public notice to “clarify clarify certain aspects of the TON Blockchain and Grams.”
The notice’s contents offered more routine announcements, like how Grams aren’t available to be traded anywhere because TON hasn’t been launched yet, with that reminder coming after a spate of scams have recently appeared that are falsely claiming to have Grams available for exchange.
However, where things got more interesting were the places that Telegram appeared to be freshly positioning itself to fend off the designation of the Grams token sale as being an unregistered securities offering in the eyes of the SEC.
Take It Or Leave It?
In its latest public comments, Telegram doubled down on arguing that the Gram is not a security in telling the project’s stakeholders that the token should be considered a currency rather than an investment vehicle.
“Grams are NOT investment products and there should be NO expectation of future profit or gain from the purchase, sale or holding of Grams,”
While that argument looks like straightforward legal maneuvering, two other revelations Telegram made caused eyebrows to raise throughout the cryptoeconomy.
The first of these revelations was that Telegram would not be integrating its TON wallet directly into its popular messenger app for the foreseeable future. As the company put it:
“At the time of the anticipated launch of the TON Blockchain, Telegram’s TON Wallet application is expected to be made available solely on a stand-alone basis and will not be integrated with the Telegram Messenger service. In this regard, the TON Wallet is expected to compete with any other wallet applications designed and offered by third parties.”
While Telegram added that such integration may occur in the future, the disclosure of initial non-integration was perceived by many industry analysts as a blow to Gram investors. As DTC Capital founder Spencer Noon argued on the news, a major portion of the “investment thesis for TON was having Telegram as a distribution channel.”
Indeed, mainstream adoption is the holy grail of the crypto sector, and Grams backers have been hopeful that the Telegram messenger app would be a robust springboard for the token to makes it way into use among the masses. For now, that springboard remains elusive.
90+% of the investment thesis for TON was having Telegram as a distribution channel.https://t.co/fwaJ0V8OOM
— Spencer Noon (@spencernoon) January 6, 2020
As another wrinkle of note, in Telegram’s latest remarks the company also asserted that it was making no commitment to work on the TON platform post-launch and instead wants the blockchain’s community to take over developer duties.
“Rather, it is Telegram’s goal and hope that the decentralized community of third-party developers and others will contribute to the TON ecosystem through the development of applications and smart contracts,” Telegram said.
SEC Wants More Info From Telegram
Last fall, Telegram agreed to suspend sales of Grams as the SEC was pursuing an injunction to force the company to do so. Around the same time, Grams investors voted to allow Telegram to delay the TON network’s launch so that the messenger firm could more effectively deal with the SEC.
Since then, intrigue around the case has only grown. On January 3rd, the SEC argued that Telegram hadn’t been forthright with its bank records in connection with the Grams token sale.
Telegram has responded and the legal fight continues, though remains a major open question in the space as to whether the company can successfully fend off the Commission.