The bitcoin price has crashed since hitting an all-time high of almost $70,000 per bitcoin in late 2021, dragging down the wider crypto market and forcing the Binance chief executive to issue a “frank” warning.
Now, the Telegram messaging app-linked toncoin, the native cryptocurrency of the TON network that was nearly killed off by U.S. regulators in 2020, has rocketed into the crypto top ten—potentially setting it up for a showdown with an Elon Musk-backed rival.
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The toncoin price has surged 70% since this time last month, taking its gains over the last two years to 500%, with its latest leap higher driven by news this week that the popular Telegram app has integrated The Open Network’s (Ton) self-custodial crypto wallet, called Ton Space, bringing toncoin access to Telegram’s 800 million users.
Toncoin now boasts a market capitalization of $8 billion and has broken into the crypto top ten. However, it still remains far from bitcoin’s $500 billion market cap.
“This is a critical breakthrough for our entire industry,” Steve Yun, president of the Ton Foundation, said this week in a statement. “On Telegram, crypto use cases will finally be able to find their users.”
“Telegram’s mission has always been to enable freedom of speech, but speech is so much more in this digital age,” said John Hyman, Telegram’s chief investment officer. “We believe users have the right to own their identities and assets. With Ton Space, users now have the technology to make that convenient.”
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Telegram withdrew from the bitcoin rival cryptocurrency’s development in 2020 after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Telegram over its involvement in raising $1.7 billion through a so-called initial coin offering (ICO).
The SEC claimed the coin, called grams, being offered to investors was an unregistered security. Telegram settled with the SEC, paying an $18.5 million fine and refunding unused investor funds.
The Telegram Open Network was rebranded as The Open Network and developed as an open-source community project.