Telegram has amassed more than 700 million monthly active users and rolled out a paid subscription with additional features as the platform attempts to monetize a portion of its large user base.
The company did not disclose how much it charges for the paid subscription. But it appears to be priced between $4.99 and $6.
The paid subscription adds a host of additional and enhanced features to the messaging app, which surpassed 500 million monthly active users in January 2021.
A paid subscription allows users to send 4GB files, supports faster downloads, and allows customers to follow up to 1,000 channels and create up to 20 chat folders with up to 200 chats in each.
Paid subscription users can also add up to four accounts in the app and pin up to 10 chats.
The company said the move is an attempt to keep its development primarily driven by its users, not advertisers.
It is also the first time that an instant messaging app with hundreds of millions of users has launched a paid subscription. WhatsApp, Messenger, Signal, Apple Messages and Google Messages do not offer a paid subscription.
Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov explained that the move to launch a paid subscription aims to respond to users’ demand for additional storage and bandwidth.
“We realized that the only way to allow our fans to get more while keeping our existing features free was to make these high limits a paid option,” he said.
Some analysts had hoped that Telegram would be able to monetize the platform through the blockchain project.
Telegram raised more than $1 billion from a number of investors by selling 5-year convertible bonds prior to the IPO.
But it abandoned the project and offered to return the $1.2 billion it had raised after several delays and regulatory issues.
Telegram reaches 700 million users
The company said in a blog post: Today is an important day in the history of Telegram. It marks a new milestone and also the beginning of sustainable income generation.
Paid subscription users have the ability to convert voice messages to text. Plus get access to exclusive stickers and reactions and use gifs as their profile pictures.
They are also offered a no-advertising experience (in some markets sponsored messages are shown in broad and public channels).
Durov pledged to keep all existing free features in the app free in the future. He also pledged to continue building new features for the unpaid audience.
The company said: We are rolling out the Join Requests feature to enable users to join a public group without the need for an invite link.
There is also another new feature targeting free users. This feature allows verified groups and channels to show their badge at the top of the chat.
The new update also supports 120 frames per second animation rendering for the new iPhone and iPad. This update includes more than 100 fixes and improvements for desktop and mobile applications.