"The only way to let our most demanding fans get more while keeping our existing features free is to make those raised limits a paid option," he said.

The app, along with messaging tool Signal, have seen an increase in users following privacy concerns with larger rival WhatsApp, owned by Meta Platforms Inc .

Telegram currently has 500 million monthly active users and is one of the 10 most downloaded apps in the world, according to its website.

Durov said the move to offer a paid subscription was to ensure that Telegram remains funded primarily by its users and not advertisers.