The Open Network (TON), a decentralized blockchain initially designed by Telegram, announced this week it is adding a bot that lets Telegram’s more than 550 million users send cryptocurrency to other users via chat. The initial rollout of the “wallet” bot will allow the sending and receiving of Toncoins, which the developers claim will come with no transaction fees.
Telegram has a long history with crypto.
In October 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against the messaging app after Telegram raised $1.7 billion via a private token sale. The SEC alleged that Gram tokens were unregistered securities. As part of a June 2020 settlement, Telegram agreed to return $1.224 billion back to investors.
In the process, Telegram handed control of the Telegram Open Network and Toncoin—now the 205th-largest cryptocurrency according to CoinMarketCap.com with a value of $2.83 billion—to The Open Network community, an open-source community dedicated to developing Toncoin and the associated blockchain.
According to The Open Network, those wanting to send Toncoin through the new wallet bot, which it claims has been used by over 800,000 accounts on Telegram since being enabled earlier this week, will need to install the latest version of the Telegram app.
Like Discord, Telegram allows users (such as The Open Network) to create bots to automate activities on the platform. While Telegram allows the wallet bot, that doesn’t necessarily mean it endorses it.
A similar tool was created in 2019 by Lightning Labs, a group developing on the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Dubbed the Lightning Torch, users could send small amounts of Bitcoin, known as satoshis, via Twitter. In September 2021, Twitter made tipping in Bitcoin via the Lightning Network a part of its platform and, in February, added Ethereum addresses to its Tips feature.
Telegram could follow the same trajectory.
“It is hoped that this simplification of the cryptocurrency transaction process will enable greater adoption around the world, and help to embed blockchain payment solutions into people’s daily lives,” a TON Foundation spokesperson said in a press release.
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