WhatsApp rival Telegram to launch 'pay-for' services in 2021, messaging to remain free

The platform has attracted nearly 500 million active users since its launch by Durov and his brother Nikolai in 2013.

Encrypted messaging platform Telegram will launch pay-for services in 2021, Telegram founder Pavel Durov said last week in a statement, as the growing company needed "at least a few hundred million dollars per year". Durov said he did not plan to sell the company and therefore needed to look for other ways to come up with funding. "Telegram will begin to generate revenue, starting next year," Durov said in a statement. "We will be able to launch countless new features and welcome billions of new users," he added.

Telegram is a popular social media platform in a number of countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union and Iran, and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news. It has attracted nearly 500 million active users since its launch by Durov and his brother Nikolai in 2013.

"For most of Telegram's history, I paid for the expenses of the company from my personal savings," Durov said. "However, with its current growth Telegram is on track to reach billions of users and to require appropriate funding," he continued.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

If we monetize large public one-to-many channels via the Ad Platform, the owners of these channels will receive free traffic in proportion to their size," he wrote. Another way Telegram could monetize its service is through premium stickers with “additional expressive features," he wrote. “The artists who make stickers of this new type will also get a part of the profit. We want millions of Telegram-based creators and small businesses to thrive, enriching the experience of all our users."

However, Durov also mentioned that all the features that are currently free will stay free. We will add some new features for business teams or power users. "Some of these features will require more resources and will be paid for by these premium users. Regular users will be able to keep enjoying Telegram – for free, forever," he stated.

All parts of Telegram devoted to messaging will remain ad-free, he added. "We think that displaying ads in private 1-to-1 chats or group chats is a bad idea. Communication between people should be free of advertising of any sort."

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