Telegram Open Network: Between Hope and Disappointment

    05 Dec 2021

    Among the platforms for creating various blockchain projects, including in the DeFi segment, there are quite unusual initiatives associated with the Telegram messenger. More precisely, with the bold attempt of its creator Pavel Durov to turn an ambitious messenger into a whole separate world, an independent operating system with its own cryptocurrency on the blockchain.

    We never got to see the Telegram cryptocurrency, nor the Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain, as well as a number of exciting undertakings: they were all suppressed by the all too familiar US regulator SEC. In May 2020, Pavel Durov and his team ultimately abandoned the launch of an independent TON blockchain and a blockchain-based cryptocurrency payment infrastructure. Moreover, now he must return $ 1.7 billion to investors in his grand project.

    In its full version, the TON was supposed to become an operating system on the blockchain, get its own decentralized DNS, VPN, and other functions and services that could make Telegram a true Web 3.0 ecosystem that includes smart contracts and cryptocurrencies.

    The project was officially dropped, but the fundamental ideas that led to the Telegram Open Network were too good to simply go away. A group of enthusiasts picked up the project. However, they quickly fell out with each other. As a result, several networks are working in parallel with each other today that keep the ideas of the TON alive.

    The events were actually quite dramatic: when Pavel Durov announced the creation of the Telegram Open Network, brand-new startups were waiting for the launch and developing projects for it. Soon, a huge group of developers formed an impressive community with their own ideas and initiatives ready to go. Having forsaken the project, Telegram made its code open, after which many developers decided that it deserves to live.

    As soon as Telegram left the project, the Free TON blockchain with the TON Crystal token was launched. It’s the brainchild of TON Labs, which had helped establish the test network back before Telegram made its exit. TON Crystal has quickly gained certain popularity: it is traded on various crypto exchanges, with some cryptocurrency wallets working with it. The project has an existing bridge connecting it to the Ethereum network and 440 validators.

    The company behind the enterprise, TON Labs, is a commercial organization with experienced top managers, salaried investors and developers, and a pool of reputable partners. The developers have recently published new project documentation. (The previous was created by Pavel Durov’s brother, a programmer named Nikolai Durov.)

    A different project, created by those who didn’t want to work under TON Labs, was called Newton (later renamed TON Foundation). For a long time, most developers remained anonymous, and the project was more of a community of enthusiasts. These guys continued to maintain and develop the original testnet2 network, launched by the Telegram team in November 2019.

    In June 2021, one of the developers, Anatoly Makosov, posted a request to GitHub for the Telegram team to give the domain and the GitHub repository to his team.

    Unexpectedly for everyone (and especially TON Labs), the Telegram team agreed. In August of this year, following the transfer of the domain and the original GitHub repository, the TON Foundation announced another name change – the project is now called The Open Network.

    The Open Network’s token is TON Coin, which can be mined but is not yet widely represented on exchanges. Since The Open Network blockchain is based on the PoS consensus algorithm, TON Coin mining doesn’t affect the blockchain network infrastructure, doesn’t support its operation, doesn’t validate transactions, and so on. Really, this is just a task existing for its own sake, solving which provides the miners their share in the form of a certain amount of tokens.

    Then, these tokens can be given to validators for temporary use. For this, the “lenders” will receive a portion of the validator’s commission for confirming transactions.

    Overall, The Open Network expects to recreate its own “fully decentralized internet” as it was originally designed: an ecosystem of services based on a scalable blockchain that includes its own distributed proxies, DNS, cloud storage, and a platform for creating third-party projects within TON. It is supposed to coincide with The Open Network’s global integration into the crypto market with the help of bridges to other popular blockchain networks. For example, there is already an ETH-TON bridge.

    There are several other development groups, but most of them are merging into the two aforementioned projects.

    Today, both The Open Network and Free TON (the second being slightly ahead) are turning into platforms for second-tier projects, primarily in decentralized finance. After all, they have the main element: a fast, fully functional, scalable blockchain. I am looking forward to watching them compete on the market next year.

    That being said, if any of these projects were now developing as integrated into the Telegram messenger, it would probably have no equal at all.

    It’s true that Telegram currently has no official relation to TON. However, there are persistent rumors… Let’s put it this way: there is a chance that the Durov brothers will somehow officially integrate TON-based solutions into the messenger in the future. If this happens, the blockchain industry will, without exaggeration, take a giant leap to the next level.

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