The Final Showdown for Crypto Supremacy


Final month, Fb rocked the world with its blockbuster Libra announcement. Even a 12 months in the past, the concept an iconic United States firm would launch a digital foreign money or {that a} sitting president would tweet about it appeared insane. 

Welcome to the brand new regular.

The Libra announcement despatched politicians scrambling, hit the mainstream media like a hurricane, and left many crypto influencers questioning if the social community large simply turned 90% of altcoins nugatory. What tiny crypto mission with just a few dozen programmers can stand in opposition to the mixed would possibly of not simply Fb but additionally the titans of the tech and payment processing world, equivalent to Uber, Lyft, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard?

However there’s a brand new hope on the horizon. One firm on the planet has the facility to tackle the social media monster and win: Telegram.   

If Libra is the Empire Strikes Again, Telegram is A New Hope

Whereas Fb has 1.eight billion customers, Telegram raised $1.7 billion.

Whereas Fb has the unwashed plenty who’ve by no means held a Bitcoin, Telegram has all the crypto neighborhood that lives and breathes altcoins for breakfast.

Whereas Mark Zuckerberg is the poster little one for the web as a surveillance financial system, Pavel Durov, the founding father of Telegram, is a fight-the-power renegade, with digital privateness being a spotlight all through his profession.

Whereas Zuckerburg seems like somebody doing a foul impression of Information from Star Trek, Durov seems like he just stepped off the stage of Magic Mike.

In the event you’re a pioneering member of the crypto neighborhood, you might need regarded with scorn on the Telegram fundraiser, which beat the preliminary coin providing regulatory backlash by elevating all of its cash from personal accredited traders, moderately than crowdsourcing it from the folks. Possibly you solely learn the short Telegram white paper that appears and reads extra like slick advertising than an in depth deep dive?

It’s best to take a better look.

The Darkish Knight Rises

The extra you look, the extra you understand there’s quite a bit to root for should you’re eager for a authentic high contender to tackle Libra — i.e., the nightmare of cyberpunks.  

Begin with Pavel Durov.  

The person constructed two profitable corporations, together with VKontakte (aka VK), a Fb-equivalent that’s particularly in style in Russia, and he adopted that up with Telegram. Meaning he is aware of methods to construct actual, working, scalable platforms when most crypto initiatives can’t even get their testnets off the bottom. He’s additionally an antihero and iconoclast with a philosophy of radical individualism and self-sovereignty that matches the cypherpunk ethos that launched Bitcoin and a thousand different crypto ships. 

Even higher, he backs that philosophy up with motion.  

At the moment, Fb faces a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission for shielding customers’ knowledge the way in which the mob “protects” small companies. Durov, alternatively, refused to create a backdoor to Telegram when the Russian Supreme Courtroom demanded it — and at the same time as American corporations like Apple, which usually stand robust on privateness, caved and yanked Telegram from the app retailer. Whereas Zuckerberg constructed his firm on surveillance as a enterprise mannequin, Durov constructed his firm on privateness. 

In the event you solely skimmed the temporary white paper for TON, you might need missed that Durov isn’t alone. He is backed by a bevy of math geniuses and hardcore programmers, who began coding in diapers and gained strings of gold medals on the International Math Olympiad whilst you have been watching Saturday morning cartoons. A kind of people is Pavel’s brother Nikolai Durov, chief expertise officer of Telegram, who solved cubic equations on the age of eight, began coding at 9 and wrote his first working system at 13 — in assembly language.  

Nikolai Durov additionally wrote the for much longer and extra complete technical white paper, which weighs in at a whopping 132 pages. It’s a dense, complicated and impressive define for the brand new Telegram Open Community (TON) platform. Nonetheless, some have bashed it as a fantasy for promising a sci-fi utopia that solves each single downside in crypto. 

It’s not the primary time Telegram confronted criticism for its architectural selections, with Gizmodo’s William Turton as soon as writing an article with the headline “Why You Ought to Cease Utilizing Telegram Proper Now.” The article hits Telegram laborious for selecting client-server encryption as a substitute of end-to-end encryption by default. Regardless that Telegram defends its choice of architecture, because it offers folks one of the best of each worlds with the choice of secret chats, the criticism continues to canine the corporate to this present day.

Some redditors even panned the white paper as nothing however a bunch of buzzwords and hand-waving.

However learn by it carefully and also you’ll understand that, if Telegram pulls off even 1 / 4 of what’s  proposed, it might show revolutionary.  

If it really works, TON will remedy the problems surrounding scaling, storage and decentralized identity in addition to defend the platform in opposition to fixed assault from hostile powers. Sure, the paper is a seize bag of concepts — a few of them distinctive and a few taking inspiration from a large spectrum of sources — however constructing on different folks’s good concepts isn’t a foul factor, it’s a advantage.  

It’s solely an issue for folks affected by not-invented-here syndrome, a debilitating psychological illness that makes folks assume they’ve all of the solutions and that no person else has any thought price doing.  

Whereas Libra’s white paper steadily drops the time period Blockchain — a complete of 40 occasions within the 26-page textual content — apparently in an try to stretch its which means far sufficient so {that a} “cryptographically authenticated database” will also be known as one,  the TON workforce is aware of the distinction between a blockchain and a gap within the wall. It’s trying to ship a massively sharded and scalable system that sends and receives not solely cash, however encrypted messages and a killer sticker assortment that makes the emojis from WhatsApp’s messenger seem like ASCII artwork. It needs to do all that whereas enabling strong peer-to-peer encrypted storage to your essential paperwork and even allows for decentralized virtual private networks

Whereas Fb soaks up the punishment and stress from hysterical governments and politicians who say with a straight face that they’re frightened that Libra’s pockets — which is compliant with Know Your Buyer and Anti-Cash Laundering legal guidelines — can be utilized for “terrorism,” Telegram’s workforce properly stays out of the highlight, identical to Satoshi Nakamoto did with Bitcoin. If you wish to construct a platform in peace, it’s higher to do your work in personal and never draw the eye of publicity-seeking politicians attempting to get reelected in battleground states.

Governments love chopping off the pinnacle of the snake. In the event you don’t give them a head to chop off, then they don’t know the place to strike.

However even with all that going for them, does Telegram have the facility to construct a real platform for e-commerce and the decentralized functions of tomorrow? Can it stand in opposition to the titanic forces behind Fb’s nascent digital foreign money and the masters of the e-commerce universe backing it? 

That’s the trillion greenback query, because the platforms that win the day would possibly find yourself controlling an enormous chunk of the world financial system and will make or break nations, corporations and folks. With a lot at stake, it’s going to be a struggle.

The Man within the Area

To win, it’s going to take a hero.  

The would possibly of the world’s old-guard is sort of absolute. Nation states print cash, and printing cash is the facility of God.  

To interrupt the stranglehold, it’s worthwhile to construct an ideal platform: one which’s simple to make use of, scales massively and is inconceivable to deliver down — a Hydra with a thousand regenerating heads. It should have all of the options of the outdated monetary system and new ones that no person can resist. It’s acquired to herald folks and companies with ease in order that it grows too massive to fail.  

The age of surveillance capitalism is upon us, and it’s rising stronger day by day. It’s a dragon that’s eaten the world.

Fb is the dragon’s head.  

If there’s something that may deliver that dragon crashing from the skies, the early odds go to Telegram. 

Whereas Libra can and can leverage Fb’s 1.7 billion customers to quickly speed up adoption, Telegram’s person base of over 200 million people is a rising drive in its personal proper.

And even with fewer customers, Telegram has one main benefit: Most Fb customers wouldn’t know a Bitcoin from a on line casino chip. Alternatively, Telegram is well-known for its vibrant, technically savvy neighborhood — together with a lot of the world’s crypto-faithful, who host their person teams and do their day-to-day enterprise there.  

Meaning if TON drops a bunch of cash in its Telegram-attached pockets, an even bigger share of these customers will most likely know methods to spend, save and ship that cash, whereas Fb’s customers would possibly begin ringing the assist strains, questioning methods to reset the password on their personal key.

That’s to not say Telegram’s workforce is ideal by any means. It has confronted intense criticism for a hand-waving white paper that guarantees a lot with out telling folks precisely the way it will work. Past that, there has mostly been radio silence from the team since its mega ICO. There’s a private beta, however it’s closed to the broader public for now. In the long run, the mission would possibly show too bold even for a gifted workforce with a whole lot of capital readily available.  

The corporate can be working out of time to ship. If its workforce goes to succeed, it must step up now. The stakes have by no means been greater. Individuals willingly sacrifice privateness for comfort and not using a second thought. The unique crypto dream of self-sovereignty is slowing warping right into a terrifying Black Mirror episode, through which blockchains don’t allow privateness however moderately ubiquitous surveillance on an unprecedented scale. Blockchain analytic instruments peer deeply into transactions, and the SEC is looking for teams and tools devoted to blockchain evaluation. Fb will fortunately give third events that comfort and a two-way mirror into all of our lives.

Telegram may not be the hero we anticipated — and even the one we needed — however it might be our final, greatest hope for a future that doesn’t flip right into a dystopian nightmare of panopticoins.  

The crypto revolution began idealistically with a twinkle in Satoshi’s eye. There’s all the time a sure naivety in revolutions. It’s important to be loopy to tackle entrenched adversaries. The kings of the world have the cash, the weapons and the authorized hammers, and so they’re keen to make use of them in any respect prices to maintain a agency grip on the royal scepter.

However some revolutions discover a method..

Daniel Jeffries is an creator, futurist and thinker. He is written 4 science fiction novels, and he wrote his first story about Bitcoin in 2014 for Bitcoin Journal, when a younger author named Vitalik Buterin was planning a little bit thought known as Ethereum on the writers’ Skype channel.

The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed here are the authors alone and don’t essentially mirror or signify the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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