The Telegram ICO did not become a record in the number of funds raised, as this nomination is still in the hands of EOS. The blockchain project of Telegram can, however, be called the most mysterious with certainty since the first rumors about the TON platform appeared last December, two reports for the SEC about private sales, two white papers, an agreement with investors, and not one official statement about it all. Not all projects are so secretive. DeCenter considered the blockchain platforms of three large instant messengers other than Telegram.
Payments via Messengers Are All the Rage
Payment systems integrated into social networks and instant messaging applications are not uncommon. Facebook Payments, VK Pay launched in June (and the short-lived “Ruble VKontakte” in 2010), WeChat Pay as part of the largest Chinese messenger WeChat, KakaoPay in South Korea from KakaoTalk, and Line Pay inside the Japanese Line messenger.
The mechanics of attraction of such platforms to the payment sector is clear. Messengers with multi-million user reach (for WeChat, this figure exceeds one billion) should not be engaged in the promotion of their payment solution, as they already have a significant starting audience. Now, it is the “small matter” of transferring these systems to the crypto level. And here, the advantage is on the side of the giants. For example, what is officially known about Telegram is its number of users. In March, as the white paper of TON assumed, this number exceeded 200 million. "These users can provide the necessary critical mass to push cryptocurrencies to broad adoption," says the white paper of the project. Large Asian messengers do not lag behind Telegram in terms of the number of active users, however, and the development of blockchain systems, while others even outperform it.
Country: South Korea
Year of foundation: 2010
Number of active users per month: about 50 million (as of the end of 2017)
Payment Solution: WeChat Pay (since 2013)
Blockchain Platform: Klaytn
Other crypto projects: Upbit cryptocurrency exchange
The "parent" of KakaoTalk, the South Korean Internet corporation Kakao, officially announced ongoing blockchain development in March of this year. The company opened a special blockchain division Ground X and promised to present the platform during 2018. Kakao CEO Yoo Se-yoon said that Ground X will also be engaged in the implementation of blockchain solutions in existing products of the company.
Without a hitch and delay inherent in blockchain projects, the company kept its word: in a press release on October 8, Kakao announced the launch of its testnet, which is already available to 10 invited partners. According to the published white paper, the Klaytn platform is a hybrid blockchain that combines the functions of private and public blockchains. This is achieved through the use of two types of nodes, consensus nodes (CN) and ranger nodes (RN).
Consensus nodes are managed by invited partners. This part of the blockchain is private and uses the “Byzantine fault tolerance” (BFT) algorithm. At the same time, any user can connect to the network as an RN node. They will recheck blocks transmitted to the network by consensus nodes. “Ranger nodes load newly created blocks from consensus nodes and periodically communicate with each other while storing a local copy of the blockchain. They confirm the new blocks chosen by the consensus nodes, and check that the consensus nodes never fake the height of a certain block,” says the white paper of Ground X.
The hybrid device of the network made it possible to increase not only security but also scalability. The block distribution interval over the network is less than one second, and the throughput is 1,500 transactions per second.
To encourage participants to maintain the network, Klaytn will proportionally distribute 10 billion KLAY tokens to holders of both types of nodes based on the degree of their contribution (additional tokens will be issued annually for payment of awards for the unit).
At the moment, Klaytn is a proprietary blockchain (with closed software), but Ground X promised to publish the open-source project at a later stage and reported that the launch of the Klaytn core network is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.
Despite rumors appearing in March, the company did not conduct and does not intend to conduct an ICO, and all projects called Kakao Coin simply used the name of a popular company and turned out to be fraudulent.
Year of foundation: 2011
Number of active users per month: more than 200 million
Payment Solution: Line Pay (since 2014)
Blockchain Platform: Link
Other crypto projects: BitBox cryptocurrency exchange; plans to create a $10 million tokenized fund to support blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
The Japanese instant messenger giant Line has overtaken its “relatives” and has already launched its own blockchain and cryptocurrency LINK. The company announced this on August 31, at the same time telling that the genesis block was produced on August 23.
Tokens will be used as a means of payment in the Line ecosystem. Total LINK emission will be one billion, of which 800 million will go to users, and 200 million will remain in the company's reserve. Line refrained from an ICO. LINK tokens will be distributed as a reward when using decentralized applications (dApps) on the LINK blockchain. CEO of Line Takeshi Idezawa said that a similar incentive system was designed to promote the spread of cryptocurrencies, as well as the services and applications that use it. “Over the last seven years, Line was able to grow into a global service because of our users, and now with Link, we wanted to build a user-friendly reward system that gives back to our users,” says Idezawa.
Currently, there are already three dApps on the Link blockchain, the LINE BitBox exchange, the 4Cast prediction platform, and the Wizball Q&A service. At the same time, by the first quarter of 2019, the messenger promises 10 more dApps on his blockchain.
Subsequently, the token will be available not only as a reward for using dApps but also for purchases on the BitBox exchange. Previously, the company reported that the token will be added to BitBox in September, but so far it is still not among the assets being traded. In addition, because of regulatory issues, LINK is not yet available to users from Japan and the United States. At the same time, the Japanese will be able to receive LINK points simply for staying on the platform, and subsequently, when the exchange receives a license from the Japanese regulator the Japan Financial Services Agency these points will be exchanged for real tokens. “Until Line gets authorization for cryptocurrency trading and exchanges by the regulatory authorities in Japan, Link Point cannot be deposited, withdrawn, transferred, traded or exchanged at cryptocurrency exchanges, including Bitbox,” the company said.
A speaker of LINE spoke about the technical side of the platform. It uses two algorithms at once: Delegated Proof-of-Stake and Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT). “We need quick confirmation of [transactions] for a service-oriented blockchain platform,” said a company spokesman.
Year of foundation: 2011
Number of active users per month: 1.04 billion
Payment solution: WeChat Pay (from 2013 in China; from 2017 available in Europe)
Blockchain Platform: TrustSQL
Other blockchain projects: Intelligent Tax Research Center, created in conjunction with the Shenzhen National Tax Bureau. The project blockchain will be used to solve the problem of tax evasion.
The owner of the messenger, the Chinese investment holding Tencent, announced work on its own blockchain project in April 2017. And this summer, the company began testing its blockchain platform TrustSQL inside the WeChat messenger. Information about this appeared in the official blog of the company on August 10.
Tencent uses the blockchain to speed up employee reimbursement. The first testing of the system took place in a restaurant in the city of Shenzhen. A guest paid through the WeChat Pay service, then the payment information was transferred to the employer of the guest via the blockchain, to the restaurant itself, as well as to the tax administration of Shenzhen. Tencent reported that this has eliminated the delays that are commonly encountered when applying for reimbursement of funds “manually,” as well as the possibility of falsifying checks.
Currently, in China, the process of obtaining various corporate compensations is extremely complicated. The country uses different types of checks for individuals and companies. When employees need to receive reimbursement of expenses (for example, on business trips), they should request a receipt for companies with the number of the taxpayer of their employer. In turn, the seller must manually print the taxpayer number on each copy of the check. Other necessary mechanistic actions collecting checks and submitting an appropriate application for reimbursement of expenses also require additional time and effort, while the blockchain allows you to make this process completely transparent and unhindered.
The first users to join the blockchain trials include parking at the Shenzhen Bamboo Stadium, a car service center and a Tencent owned restaurant.