Bitcoin’s bull run so far this year, which has seen the bitcoin price climb some 200% since January, has been largely put down to some of the world’s biggest technology companies taking an interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
The bitcoin price has plateaued at around $10,000 as bitcoin traders and investors fret global regulators might scotch social media giant Facebook’s plans for its own bitcoin rival, seen by some as a tacit endorsement of bitcoin and its underlying technology.
Now, crypto trading is coming to Telegram, a messaging app which boasts more than 300 million users around the world, via bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallet provider Button Wallet.
“Cryptos’ biggest obstacle is mass adoption and what we’ve created will help people comfortable with trading cryptocurrency without using real money,” said Alex Safonov, co-founder and chief executive of Button Wallet.
Button Wallet has today unveiled what it claims is the first free cryptocurrency testing playground on the Telegram Open Network and is giving away a small number of Telegram’s gram cryptocurreny to encourage adoption.
Any Telegram user can activate Button’s Telegram Open Network wallet and receive the 6.6 testnet grams on the account. Button Wallet supports bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin, amongst others.
“With all the fanfare surrounding Facebook’s libra digital currency, there hasn’t been a way to explore digital assets without risk, until now with Button Wallet and the Telegram Open Network,” Safonov added.
While bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption has been slow over the last decade, recent surveys suggest it is picking up pace.
In May, a survey from HBUS, the U.S. partner of the Singapore-based Huobi bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange, revealed what it called “rapid” bitcoin and crypto adoption, with the percentage of people in the U.S. holding cryptocurrencies doubling over the last year.
“There’s common fear around crypto which is preventing some people from becoming new users. Giving them the ability to practice performing transactions helps remove fear around trading real digital assets,” said Rachael McCrary, chief operations officer at Button Wallet.
Meanwhile, reports emerged this week that Telegram, which has recently become popular with pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong despite being banned in China, has a technical issue that could be leaking phone numbers.
Security researchers have warned that while this particular issue doesn’t open private message content, it demonstrates what can happen when the authorities or criminals can compromise the privacy and security of apps—something bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges have long feared.