Telegram founder mulls ‘NFT-like’ approach to auctioning usernames, links

Telegram founder and chief executive Pavel Durov is considering creating a marketplace on the blockchain to auction sought-after usernames and channel links on the popular messaging app.

In a post on his Telegram channel, Durov wrote that these addresses could be sold as “NFT-like” items. 

“This would create a new platform where username holders could transfer them to interested parties in protected deals – with ownership secured on the blockchain via NFT-like smart contracts,” he said in the August 22 post.

Durov said he was impressed by The Open Network (TON), a blockchain originally developed by Telegram and which has recently sold more than 2,000 domain names for about US$3 million. 

That auction saw “casino.ton” sold for 200,000 Toncoin (approximately US$280,000) while “wallet.ton” went for 215,250 Toncoin.

Durov said Telegram could do the same to follow TON’s success. “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,” he said.

Other elements of the Telegram ecosystem, including channels, stickers or emoji, could later also become part of this marketplace, he added.

The TON blockchain would likely be the best option for Telegram to hold decentralised auctions, and Telegram’s team can write “bullet-proof” smart contracts for the network because they had invented its programming language, Durov said.