Telegram now supports crypto payments after the widely used messaging app previously gave up on its own token. The addition could make crypto payments on messaging platforms more mainstream.
The TON Foundation, which manages the toncoin token, has enabled fee-free payments—sending crypto to other users—using toncoin (TON) in the app. It also has added the ability to buy bitcoin within the app.
Telegram, which has about 550 million users, previously dropped its plan for its own token after a legal challenge from the SEC. The SEC sued Telegram in 2019 after it raised $1.7 billion to develop its token, calling it an illegal token offering. Telegram later paid a fine to the SEC and agree to return capital to investors.
Since then, Telegram's CEO Pavel Durov has endorsed a separate spin-off token Toncoin that is apparently independent from Telegram. That is the coin that is now enabled for payments on Telegram.
The TON Foundation said it has enabled the ability to send Toncoin "without transaction fees to any Telegram user," it announced on Twitter. "With this service, you’ll no longer need to enter long wallet addresses and wait for confirmations."
The new payments service brings the potential for a global crypto payments service through the messaging app. Many in the crypto industry are working on ways to make crypto payments mainstream as a cheap and fast alternative to traditional payments — particularly for cross-border transactions.
There are efforts to do this using bitcoin, ethereum or new Layer 1 protocols, but many of these efforts face a challenge of building a global user base and viable product to enable crypto payments. Companies like Facebook parent Meta have sought to build such a service, but the company recently abandoned the idea. Telegram already has a global user base and product that could make crypto payments a mainstream product quickly.
The Ton Foundation recently said it has raised $1 billion from users for the project.