Pavel Durov, the founder of encrypted messaging app Telegram, has proposed a marketplace that would auction off highly sought-after usernames using "NFT-like smart contracts."
The suggestion came from Durov following the "success" of domain name auctions by The Open Network (TON), a layer-1 blockchain created by the Telegram team. In mid-July, the blockchain project launched the TON DNS service, which allows users to assign human-readable names to crypto wallets, smart contracts, and websites.
On Aug. 23, he wrote to his personal Telegram group, "Durov's Channel," that he was "really fascinated by the success of the bid TON recently performed for their domain/wallet names."
He recommended that Telegram could use similar technology to launch a new marketplace for buying and selling "catchy t.me addresses like @storm or @royal, as well as all four-letter usernames."
"This would establish a new platform where username owners could transfer them to interested parties in safe transactions, with ownership secured on the blockchain via NFT-like smart contracts."
"Other components of the Telegram ecosystem, such as channels, stickers, or emoji, may become part of this marketplace in the future," he added.
The first TON DNS auctions took place on July 30, and, like the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) ".eth" domains, the ".ton" variant enables users to access decentralized applications without having to type a long string of letters and figures from their wallet addresses.
The FunC programming language is used by the TON network to run the TON Virtual Machine and to release specific smart contracts on the blockchain. If Telegram launches NFTs, they will almost certainly be based on these guidelines.
Given that Durov and his team created TON, previously known as the Telegram Open Network, along with the messaging app in 2018, a similar integration would probably be quite simple for Telegram.
"Because our team can write bullet-proof smart contracts for TON (we invented its smart-contract language), we are inclined to use TON as the underlying blockchain for our future marketplace," he wrote.
TON was created to serve as a digital payments platform for Telegram, but it quickly ran into problems with the US government. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has received information about an unregistered preliminary sale of $1.7 billion in Gram tokens.
Durov left the project after losing a court battle with the SEC in mid-2020 to focus on Telegram. Since then, open source programmers have resurrected the project as The Open Network.
The TON network employs a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus protocol and supports staking, NFTs, and decentralized applications. Toncoin (TON), its native asset, has risen 14.70% in the last 24 hours to $1.33 at the time of writing, according to CoinMarketCap data.