Blockchain startup Crypterium is offering its 500,000 users the chance to buy Gram tokens for messaging app Telegram’s upcoming blockchain platform, the Telegram Open Network (TON).
But the startup doesn’t have a deal with Telegram to buy the Gram tokens at a set price; instead it will be selling the tokens at a set price and hoping that the price doesn’t jump too much on launch.
Crypterium will sell the Gram tokens for 3.5 euros ($3.82), undercutting the offerings of other companies, like Gram Asia, who sold Gram at $4 through trading platform Liquid.com back in July. Like Liquid’s Gram sale, users aren’t exactly buying Grams directly: they’re buying the right to reserve Grams on Crypterium, which Crypterium will buy as soon as Grams go live.
“If you’re waiting for the Gram tokens' arrival, this is a great opportunity since Crypterium is taking all the risk,” says Steven Parker, CEO of Crypterium and former General Manager of Visa.
The sale is a bid to get new users onto Crypterium, attracting customers by offering a shiny new token below market price. There are risks for Crypterium, though. If the tokens spike in value, Crypterium still pledges to buy them, no matter the cost. For instance, if the price of Gram soars to $15, Crypterium’s coffers could be rinsed dry. Equally, if Grams’ value plummets, Crypterium will make a killing.
Crypeterium believes that the price won’t crash. Siranush Sharoyan, head of marketing at Crypterium, told Decrypt that because TON’s private ICO was only available to a selection of professional investors, they’re unlikely to dump all the tokens to make a quick exit.
But recent examples of hyped blockchain networks tanking despite being funded in advance, like Hedera Hashgraph and Algorand, calls this into question.
The price of Algorand’s token, the fêted project of MIT professor and Turing Award recipient Silvio Micali, has collapsed, despite being backed by hundreds of millions of dollars. The Algo has dropped almost 95 percent, from highs of $3.28 when it launched back in June, to lows of $0.17 last week.
And Hedera Hashgraph’s native token, HBAR, lost 93 percent of its value when its mainnet beta launched last month, despite backing from companies including IBM and Boeing and promising a network thousands of times faster than the likes of Ethereum and Bitcoin. Hedera Hashgraph started on $0.41 when it launched September 17, dropping to lows of $0.026.
In Hedera’s case, crypto analyst Eric Wall—previously a cryptocurrency lead at exchange software provider Cinnober, later acquired by Nasdaq—told Decrypt the issue was likely that the HBAR was valued too high and Hedera bungled the distribution.
“Hedera now has the problem that it needs to unload [more than] 98% of its supply on the market at a high valuation. Many who invest in early stage ICOs are looking for profitable exits. The terrible economis is that it has set itself up nicely for sustained selling pressure for quite a while,” said Wall.
So the key takeaway? TON will have to make sure it gets the launch right, or the value of the Gram doesn’t fall through the floor at launch.
It’s experimenting with some tricky token economics, too. Because Gram’s supply is so big—five billion tokens in all—it will distribute 25 percent of the supply every three months, according to an analysis by Liquid (apart from the 52 percent TON is keeping for itself).
So, if it gets the launch wrong, the token price could plummet. But for Crypterium, that’s a silver lining.