Pavel Durov, founder of the crypto-messaging app Telegram, has floated the idea of a marketplace that could use “NFT-like smart contracts” to auction highly sought-after usernames.
Durov made the proposal after the “success” of domain name auctions by the Open Network (TON), a Layer 1 blockchain originally designed by the Telegram team. The blockchain project launched the TON DNS service, which allows users to assign human-readable names to crypto wallets, smart contracts, and websites in mid-July.
In a message to his personal Telegram group called Durov’s Channel on Tuesday, he noted that he was “really impressed with the success of TON’s recent auction of domain/wallet names.”
“Imagine how successful Telegram would be with 700 million users if we auctioned our reserved usernames, group and channel links,” he said.
Durov suggested that Telegram could leverage similar technology to roll out a new marketplace that could be used to buy and sell “cute t.me addresses like storm or royal, all four-character usernames:”
“This will create a new platform where username holders can pass them on to interested parties in a protected transaction – while securing ownership on the blockchain via NFT-like smart contracts.”
“Other elements of the Telegram ecosystem, including channels, stickers or emojis, could become part of this market later,” he added.
The first auctions launched on the TON DNS on July 30, and like the “.eth” domains for the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), the “.ton” variant allows users to access decentralized applications in a simple way without having to type a long string of letters and numbers from their wallet addresses .
The TON Network uses the FunC programming language for the TON Virtual Machine and to launch specific smart contracts on the blockchain. If Telegram were to launch NFTs, it would most likely be based on that standard.
A similar integration would probably be too simple for Telegram, given that Durov and his team developed TON, formerly Telegram Open Network, alongside the messaging app in 2018.
“Our team can write bulletproof smart contracts for TON (since we invented the smart contract language), so we are tempted to try TON as the primary blockchain for our future market,” he wrote.
TON was initially developed to serve as a digital payments platform for Telegram. However, I immediately ran into trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding an initial unregistered sale of $1.7 billion of gram tokens.
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After losing a court battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission in mid-2020, Durov moved away from the project to focus on Telegram. Since then, developers of open source software have revived the project under the banner of The Open Network.
The TON network uses a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, and it supports many features such as staking, NFTs, and decentralized applications. According to data from CoinMarketCap, its original Toncoin (TON) has pumped 14.70% in the past 24 hours to settle at $1.33 at the time of writing.