Getting started with crypto on Telegram and TON
Telegram is integrating the TON blockchain, potentially becoming a Crypto Superapp. Users can trade crypto, shop online, play games with NFTs, and make payments on Telegram. This article explains how to start using Telegram and TON, including setting up a wallet and adding funds, and presents wallet options for Telegram and TON and how to get started with Telegram crypto apps.
The popular messaging app Telegram has 800 million active users and has started integrating a blockchain called TON. This integration could potentially transform Telegram into a Crypto Superapp, similar to the Chinese WeChat. It would enable users to engage in various activities such as crypto trading, e-commerce, utilizing gaming NFTs, making payments to anyone anywhere, and much more, all within a single interface.
You are currently in the early stages of the Telegram and TON opportunity, which is great, but it also comes with some challenges to overcome during setup. We have prepared this guide to assist you in getting started and settling in before the other 800 million users join!
Before we dive into setting yourself up, let's first familiarize ourselves with both Telegram and TON. Telegram is a popular messaging app that is rapidly approaching a billion users worldwide. Telegram stands out from other leading social apps by not being American (refer to Snowden's revelations or the Twitter files for reasons why this might be problematic). The company strongly values privacy and freedom of speech, which has contributed to its popularity. Additionally, Telegram has become the go-to messaging app for the crypto industry.
Then there's The Open Network, or TON, which is an open-source blockchain specifically made to bring blockchain-based functionalities like tokens, payments, and NFTs to Telegram. Without getting overly technical, TON is a high-performance blockchain that can process over 100,000 transactions per second, making it the fastest blockchain and payment system currently in existence!
While there are various other high-performance blockchains like Solana and Aleph Zero, TON has something that no other blockchain even comes close to: distribution. Due to the integration of TON with Telegram, which has roughly 800 million users, TON has an enormous potential user base, approximately 100 times the current on-chain user base of all other blockchains combined! While this user base won't start using crypto overnight, the foundation is already being built.
Before you can start using TON in Telegram, you'll need a crypto wallet. This wallet enables you to store your crypto and connect with apps to trade crypto, buy NFTs, and earn a yield on your stablecoins. First, it's important to understand the distinction between custodial and non-custodial wallets.
In short, custodial wallets are maintained by a third party, such as a crypto exchange like Coinbase or Binance. Similar to a bank account, these wallets have your funds managed and secured by the third party. However, you no longer have full control over your funds. Additionally, custodial wallets are not private as KYC is mostly required. There can also be restrictions on your funds if certain rules change, and if the third party gets hacked, everyone loses their funds.
Non-custodial wallets provide complete control over crypto-assets. Only the owner of the private key can access and transfer funds. Popular non-custodial wallets include MetaMask, Trezor, and Phantom. However, using non-custodial wallets requires personal responsibility, including securely storing private keys. They may also be more challenging for newcomers to crypto.
To gain a deeper understanding of the distinction between custodial and non-custodial wallets, click here.
For Telegram and TON, the first option is the wallet bot. It is a great wallet for crypto beginners as it takes less than a minute to set up. All you need to do is type @wallet into the search bar in Telegram and install it.
The Telegram company acts as a custodian, the wallet is tied to your Telegram account, and there is no risk of losing your private keys. At the time of writing, the wallet allows you to receive, store, and send the TONcoin ($TON), the stablecoin Tether ($USDT), and a wrapped version of Bitcoin ($WBTC).
You can send these cryptocurrencies to your Telegram friends using their Telegram account or phone number while paying no transaction fees. Another valuable feature is the fiat on-ramping, which enables you to swap money directly from your bank into crypto and store it in your wallet.
If you want to have full control of your funds (and take full responsibility) while still having your wallet directly in Telegram, TON Space is the wallet to use. At the time of writing, the wallet is still in beta, but you can already start using it. You can find it by searching for @TONspace in Telegram. Once installed, it will be automatically added to the built-in wallet and displayed as a separate wallet in the interface. With the TON Space wallet, you can start using crypto apps directly from your Telegram account. Make sure you have securely and safely stored your private key for this wallet. No one but you should ever be able to see it. The private key can be used to access your funds from any non-custodial wallet on any device.
Another option is Tonkeeper, TON's most popular non-custodial wallet. This wallet is not integrated with Telegram but is built specifically for the TON blockchain. It allows you to safely store your TON-based assets (which are called Jettons) such as TOncoin ($TON), the stablecoin Tether ($jUSDT), and any other token issued on TON. You can use it on both mobile and desktop. It is easy to understand and allows you to connect with TON-based applications, for example, to stake your $TON, swap tokens via TON-based decentralized exchanges, and hold your NFTs.
Now that you've got your wallet set up, you need some money in it. While the custodial wallet offers free transactions, you're going to need $TON to pay for transactions for any of the non-custodial wallet options. Below, we describe the three ways to get funds into your TON and Telegram wallets.
The first option is to use the above described fiat on-ramp available in the custodial wallet. It allows you to buy crypto ($TON, $jUSDT, and $WBTC for now) with your credit card, a process that generally only takes a few minutes. In turn, you can decide to just hold these cryptos or send them from your custodial wallet to your non-custodial TON Space to start using crypto apps.
The second option to get funds on TON and Telegram is to buy $TON via a centralized exchange (find the list of options here) and send it from the exchange to your non-custodial wallet like TON Space or Tonkeeper. This route works in both directions, meaning you can also cash out your $TON via these exchanges, something that isn't possible yet with the custodial wallet.
The third option is to bridge cryptos from other blockchains to TON. Currently, only Ethereum is supported, but bridges to other blockchains are being built. The way this works is that you connect both your Ethereum wallet and your TON (non-custodial) wallet to the bridge and select the token you’d like to bridge. Currently, $TON, $USDT and $WBTC are the primary options for assets to bridge. Before bridging, make sure you have $TON in your TON-based wallet as the bridging requires transaction fees. Bridges you can use:
- TON’s official TON<>Ethereum bridge: https://bridge.ton.org/
- The bridge from DeDust, one of the leading TON-based decentralized exchanges: https://dedust.io/bridge
Word of caution
- Always make sure you’re on the correct website of the bridge before connecting your wallets. There have been many scams that look and feel like an official bridge, but end up draining your wallet(s).
- Always send a small test transaction first to make sure the bridge works.
Now that you're all set up, you're ready to start using the Telegram ecosystem. Since you'll likely only have $TON in your wallet at the beginning, TON-based decentralized exchanges like Ston Fi and DeDust are good places to start. They can be used directly within Telegram with the TON Space wallet or outside of Telegram with the Tonkeeper wallet.
From there, you can start exploring the rapidly growing crypto ecosystem on TON and Telegram. Some resources we recommend:
- Our article about 10 interesting projects on TON and Telegram.
- The Telegram apps center, which showcases all live apps
- NOTcoin, which is a click-to-earn game that rewards you for using TON apps
- The community bot, which is a gamified way to explore new Telegram apps.
With the largest distribution in crypto, TON and Telegram have a serious chance of becoming a leading crypto ecosystem and crypto's Superapp. It's still early days for the ecosystem, but once you get onboarded, you'll likely be impressed by the number of apps, users, and support already present, all in one interface. Generally, it's always the best time to get started when the masses aren't talking about it yet, and we hope this guide helps you get started!
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Disclaimer: Nothing on this site should be construed as a financial investment recommendation. It’s important to understand that investing is a high-risk activity. Investments expose money to potential loss.