While many of us simply know Telegram as a messaging platform, it has a long and extensive history with blockchain technology. It launched the Telegram Open Network (TON) a few years ago and its native token even got the company in some trouble with the SEC over allegations of it being an unregistered token. Due to the issue, Telegram eventually handed over ownership of TON to the Open Network.
But it seems Telegram isn’t quite done with blockchain just yet as its CEO said in a channel post on August 22, 2022, that the company is considering getting into NFTs. More specifically, the company is considering auctioning off their usernames as NFTs.
Telegram Debuts NFTs?
In his post, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov brought up Telegram possibly selling channel links and usernames as NFTs. This idea, he says was inspired by the Open Network’s recently-concluded sale where over 2,000 .ton domain names were sold, with sales totalling around $3 million.
His idea for Telegram is that users should be able to transfer specific usernames and channels to others with ownership protected by “NFT-like smart contracts”. Specific Telegram usernames and channels can have a lot of followers and influence and should a Telegram user want to transfer ownership, it could be worth quite a lot, which is a sentiment Durov shared.
“If TON has been able to achieve these results, imagine how successful Telegram with its 700 million users could be if we put reserved @ usernames, group and channel links for auction. In addition to millions of catchy t.me addresses like @storm or @royal, all four-letter usernames could be made available for sale (@bank, @club, @game, @gift, etc.),” he said.
He also said that over time, more elements that are common in Telegram like stickers could be added to the proposed marketplace. Needless to say, Durov has ambitious plans for blockchain use within the app.
Even though Telegram no longer ‘owns’ the TON, it still has some connection to it, with users even being able to exchange the TonCoin token on Telegram. Now, Durov believes that the former Telegram asset could be the key to bringing web3 capabilities to Telegram.
Seeing as Telegram was the initial designer, he has said that smart contract code would be written on TON and it could serve as the technological foundation for the creation of this new marketplace.
The Implications of This
If Telegram can achieve this vision and launch this marketplace, what would it mean for users? First, it would provide a formal transfer process for usernames. It is not uncommon for users of social media and messaging platforms to sell channels and usernames but Telegram providing a secure and legitimate way to do so will save a lot of stress.
This is especially true when it comes to coveted usernames like @gift that many people could certainly pay a lot for. If it is successful, it could also potentially set the standard for other messaging apps looking to embrace web3.