Telegram plans to auction usernames on The Open Network (TON) blockchain, according to multiple media reports. The move comes two months after Telegram founder Pavel Durov floated the idea. A message on an official channel belonging to the two-headed platform states that “a few weeks ago, Telegram’s founder and CEO announced the upcoming possibility of buying and selling unique and recognizable Telegram usernames.“
In addition, the ad also states:
“The development phase is almost complete, and the auction platform will be launched soon. Don’t miss your chance to acquire the most valuable usernames and secure your ownership on the immutable ledger of the TON blockchain.”
What would have inspired Pavel Durov to conceptualize this auction last August was the success of a recent TON auction for usernames in their wallet. Some of the usernames sold in this initiative, such as casino.ton, sold for over $200,000. Speaking directly on the matter, Pavel Durov said:
“If TON was able to achieve these results, imagine how successful Telegram could be with its 700 million users if we auctioned off @reserved usernames, group and channel links.”
In addition, Durov also said that other elements of the Telegram messaging app’s ecosystem could be integrated into this marketplace at a later date. These include channels, stickers and emojis, for example.
Following Telegram’s announcement to auction usernames on TON, the value of the blockchain’s native token, Toncoin, has jumped nearly 9%, with Toncoin changing hands at $1.34.
Auctioning usernames on Telegram is nothing new in the Internet space
Buying and selling usernames in the web space3 is not necessarily new. For example, the Non Fungible market tracker reports that over 500,000 users have paid for usernames on Ethereum using the optional Ethereum Name Service (ENS) tool. The username transaction process involves the transfer of usernames by their owners to interested parties in protected transactions. Ownership is then secured on the blockchain through the use of smart contracts that share properties similar to non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The buying and selling of usernames also extends beyond the web3 space. Other websites, such as Instagram and Twitter, are also seeing such activities take place. Due to the increasing difficulty in obtaining desired usernames on these other platforms, some users are willing to take extreme measures. In addition, there are a lot of online tips that cover everything related to selling usernames on various platforms. This includes deploying complex copyright strategies to ask sites to redistribute unused accounts.
Some users who want certain usernames are willing to cross ethical lines. For example, reports indicate that some services do not mind hacking the original owner to access social media handles.
Telegram first developed the TON blockchain alongside its messaging app a few years ago. However, the platform abandoned it in 2020 following a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).