Telegram is not yet done finding new ways to monetize access to its platform. On Tuesday, the encrypted messaging app announced that users will be able to sign up for its services without needing access to a SIM card. How, you ask me? By buying a phone number with crypto, of course.
In a blog post, Telegram said it enabled access to the app by “using anonymous blockchain-powered numbers” which it now auctions off for crypto on the company’s own Fragment crypto platform. Although users can access Telegram with an encrypted phone number, it now gives app users a way to do so even more anonymously, as long as they are willing to open their crypto wallets.
It should be noted that the Fragment market is not available in the United States. After logging into the service with a VPN, he showed that some numbers cost just under $40 with six days to bid, while other numbers, such as 888-8-888, sold for over $61,850. $ with two weeks remaining on the bidding process. The thing is, you can’t use these numbers for anything other than signing up for Telegram, which makes the idea of an “auction” even crazier.
Telegram has aggressively monetized its platform over the past year to make more money from its 700 million active users worldwide. On Tuesday, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said on his official channel that his company has more than a million people paying for Telegram Premium, which was released just five months ago, although premium subscribers represent only a “fraction” of their overall revenue.
Fragment is also where Telegram sold popular usernames for some extra crypto money. It seems that Telegram and its new expressed love for crypto doesn’t sit well with US regulators, as has been evident in the past.
In October, Telegram started auction popular usernames on the TON blockchain, which were originally developed by Telegram before splitting off after the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the company for selling unregistered securities.
But things did not go smoothly. In August, Durov told users that the company had hacked addresses of users who had been “empty or inactive in the last year.” The CEO promised that “99%” of these addresses would be reintroduced to the public, while only 1% would be auctioned. Prior to the release of its username auction house, the company reportedly began repossessing some popular names that were already in use without first notifying those users. As stated in a post from Molly White from Web3 is doing greatrelatively minor Twitch content creator UmbyUmbreon tweeted in November that their usernames @umbyvids and @umbydotdog were auctioned off without their consent.
These names were later resold as expensive NFTs on Fragment. The most expensive types of names like “Facebook” sold for $94,200 while “Amazon” went for $425,000, all in TON coins. Currently, the “@coin” username costs $585,900, which you can expect will come in very handy for anyone trying to lead naïve Telegram users into a number of untested and potentially untested crypto adventures. full of scams.
It’s unclear whether the company was reacting to some of the backlash, but last month Telegram announced that it would allow its users to list their own usernames on Fragment for free without making an upfront offer. Once someone bids, they start a 7-day eBay-style auction, where the platform takes a commission from the product.
Durov is a Russian-born, self-proclaimed millionaire libertarian, so it makes sense that he is so interested in crypto. On November 30, the CEO claimed on his page that Fragment had already sold 50 million usernames in less than a month. He said he aims to add “decentralized” crypto wallets and crypto exchanges to the Fragment platform, seemingly unaware of what happened last time when his company was hit upside down by the SEC. Even though the crypto world has been rocked by the Corruption being detailed by the FTX crypto exchange implosionDurov has publicly exclaimed about the merits of “decentralization” in crypto and how blockchain technology “should finally be able to fulfill its primary mission – empowering the people again.”
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