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The Internet news channel Telegram, which is also popular in Germany, wants to introduce a payment model in view of its rapid growth. All currently free functions remain free, as Telegram founder Pawel Durow announced.

However, there will be new functions for which users will then be asked to pay. Durow wants to continue to do without advertisements to finance the service, which could pop up while reading the news. “Communication between people should be free from advertising of any kind,” he wrote.

According to him, Telegram is now used by 500 million active users. The news channel was founded in 2013 and was initially particularly popular with opposition activists in authoritarian countries because of its encryption. It is used by many for the quick distribution of messages, including by authorities – but also as a messenger service, similar to WhatsApp.

“We’re not going to sell the company like the founders of WhatsApp,” wrote Durow. “The world needs Telegram to stay independent.” To ensure this, the service must generate income from next year. “We’re going to be rolling out tons of new features and welcoming billions of new users,” he said.

The 36-year-old is considered the Russian Mark Zuckerberg. Durov lives abroad for fear of political persecution. He also founded the social network VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

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