Telegram coin, Varoufakis bitcoin bubble and the Belarus crypto hub

The Telegram secure messaging app that is a favourite with crypto traders, says it is launching its own blockchain and associated coin, which will be called “Gram”, according to the Cointelegraph.com crypto news website.

Telegram has 180 million users and its blockchain platform will be called the Telegram Open Network, although little is known about its design or the utility features of the coin.

Kik, a messaging app popular with young people in North America, launched a cryptocurrency for its platform as a way for Kik’s customers to monetise user-created content and encouraging app developers to build products for the platform by offering an easy route to monetisation. The messaging app’s KIN coin is ranked 117th, with a market cap of $106 million. Kik raised $98 million from investors in its September initial coin offering.

Elsewhere, Yanis Varoufakis, a left-wing academic and former finance minister in the Greek government, has joined the chorus of experts and regulators warning that Bitcoin’s price is based on nothing more than speculation. “Bitcoin is the perfect bubble,” said the economist in an interview with tech magazine Wired.

Varoufakis, who drew up plans to use blockchain technology to facilitate businesses and individuals using tax credits as a form of money in the Greek government’s efforts to circumvent the policy demands made by the “Troika” of the EU, ECB and IMF as their bailout conditions in 2015, described the distributed ledger technology as “a remarkable solution”.

And on the bubble track, the suspension in the shares of a US company formerly known as the Long Island Iced Tea Corp, which changed its name to Long Blockchain Corp and saw its share price leap 500%, will support the claims of those calling out the “irrational exuberance” that surrounds all-things crypto.

A similar corporate action happened in the UK in October when On-line plc announced plans to re-name to On-line Blockchain. The share price rocketed 394% on the news. The Essex-based company does have plans to develop a blockchain product but its plans are at a very early stage.

Elsewhere, Belarus has made all cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings legal in the country and exempted companies in the sector from income tax for five years. Blockchain companies based in the country will now also be able to use cryptocurrencies for international transactions.

Belarus’s initiative is an indication of the difficulties states will have in co-ordinating global efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies.

Finally, investment bank Goldman Sachs is setting up a trading desk for cryptocurrencies, according to a report at Bloomberg. The bank hopes to have the operation up and running by June 2018 an unnamed source said.

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