Messaging service provider Telegram raised more than $1 billion in debt financing as part of plans to grow its global presence and drive a strategy to entice content creators and small businesses to the platform.

In a blog, CEO Pavel Durov said the amount was raised through a bond sale to global investors.

Durove explained “some of the largest and most knowledgeable” global investors participated, with the funding enabling it to remain “independent” and work to become “a financially sustainable project”.

In December 2020 Durov outlined a goal of providing revenue to Telegram content creators and small businesses by adding features including premium stickers and advertising.

The company aims to begin generating revenue this year in a “non-intrusive way”.

Telegram launched in 2013 and had amassed more than 500 million users by late January, when figures were boosted by an exodus from Facebook-owned WhatsApp.