TON: The Open Network
TON is a fully decentralized, community-driven blockchain designed to enable fast transactions and handle millions of transactions per second. It has a market cap of $3 billion, an initial supply of 5 billion coins, a circulating supply of 1.22 billion coins, and an annual inflation rate of 0.6% paid to validators for keeping the system functional. It is a layer-1 blockchain, composed of a master chain and several workchains, of which the master chain handles Proof-of-Stake consensus, while the workchains are used for smart contracts. The workchains are what distinguish it from other blockchains, as they can be divided into shardchains. Shardchains handle transactions for a specific set of accounts, reducing the chance of network congestion and allowing for high transaction per second processing.
TON was initially an ICO for private investors, but it was shut down by the SEC. Telegram was forced to pay $1.2 billion in raised funds back to their investors and pay an $18.5 million fine to settle the SEC charges. In response, the creators of Telegram have launched a new version of the project that is more compliant with regulations. According to TON, they claim to be the first blockchain to combine both Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake technologies. They’ve dubbed this approach as initial proof-of-work or IPoW. The initial distribution of TON tokens was through mining, which they have described as an "accidental invention" following their court case in 2020. The Telegram team placed all the available coins of the network into smart contracts, which were open for mining on equal terms after being forced to stop development on The Open Network. Telegram and TON are two separate entities. According to their website “all tokens were distributed among tens of thousands of miners'' which is important information to know. Although mining for Toncoin is no longer possible, the blockchain now operates using PoS technology.
TON’s Proof of Stake consensus is maintained by validators and nominators who validate blocks and are rewarded for their participation. Validators on TON must have a high-performance server and at least 600,000 TON. They stake TON for a fixed amount of time which is later refunded with interest after the completion of a validation round. Currently there are 257 validators. Nominators are users who lend TON to validators. When the validator earns rewards for validating blocks, the rewards are distributed between the nominator and the validator. This allows people who cannot afford to buy 600,000 TON to participate in the validation process. According to the TonWhales staking pool, there are a total of 5,773 Nominators with a Total stake of 20,291,664 TON & Profitability of 7.62% APY. The Minimum deposit for any stake is 50 TON.
The development team for TON is decentralized and includes anonymous members from around the world. Some of the core team members include:
● Andrew Rogozov: Former CEO of VK.com, oversees product development at TON Foundation.
● Tal Kol: Co-founder of Orbs Network, TON Ambassador for communication and outreach.
● Oleg Andreev: Co-founder of Tonkeeper, TON Ambassador for communication and outreach.
● Manuel Stotz: Founder of Kingsway Capital, focuses on growing TON ecosystem.
● Steve Yun: Founding member of TON Foundation, background in NGO serving ethnic minorities.
● Kirill Emelyanenko (EmelyanenkoK): Orion Protocol, Ph.D. graduate and winner of Telegram contests
● Anatoliy Makosov (tolya-yanot): Orion Protocol, TON Foundation founding member, winner of TON Blockchain Contests in 2019.
TON had a recent price increase that was likely due to several of the following reasons:
● TON was recently trending on Coinvoice, which is a popular Chinese crypto blogging site, and there’s a lot of hype around this project.
● People are talking about the possibilities that TON may be used for tipping and airdrops on Telegram.
● TON team has implied that Toncoin will likely be used for subscriptions on Telegram so that channel owners can monetize their chats.
● There are rumors that Telegram will be a better, decentralized version of AliPay or WeChat in China to pay for things.
● TON recently held a sale for decentralized phone numbers. This could be a really big deal in the future, especially because the phone numbers are tradable as NFTs.
● If TON continues to prove itself, its partnership with Telegram has the potential to bring mass adoption to Toncoin by enabling Telegram’s over 700 million monthly active users to access crypto safely and easily.
The TON ecosystem is growing quickly as there are already many wallets, exchanges, NFTs, DAOs, Utility projects, DEXs, Bridges, games, tokens, and block explorers coming to the network. CertiK, an independent blockchain security company, has confirmed the security of TON's smart contracts and will offer audits to other TON-based projects, a major step towards building a secure ecosystem.
On their website, there are two funds listed:
TONcoin Fund: $250M
Fund members: Kucoin ventures, Huobi Incubator, Mexc Pioneer, Orbs, Miner’s Fund, Kilo, Cypher Capital
TAV Fund: $90M
Fund members: Alphanonce, Vistalabs, Miner’s Fund, Kilo
These funds will invest in strong teams and projects with a vision to build on The Open Network.
TON is beginning to connect with cross-chain bridges, one of which is Orbit - a popular bridge that supports many other chains. This is encouraging because it enables a host of new users to be introduced to the TON blockchain and it’s a strong indicator that stablecoins and other large cryptocurrencies will have liquidity on the TON blockchain.
Keep in mind - TON is not an EVM compatible blockchain, thus users will not be able to use it on popular web3 wallets such as MetaMask.
TON has a decentralized auction platform called Fragment which sells anonymous phone numbers (solely compatible with Telegram) as well as usernames. These phone numbers are stored in the Toncoin wallet and are used to log into the Fragment platform. From my understanding, all the 4-letter usernames were put up for auction. The username @talk is listed for 5,303 TON or $13,204. The username @earn sold for 96,000 TON on Nov. 18th, 2022.
TON can be accessed on mobile devices through various apps, with Tonkeeper being the most widely used. On Tonkeeper it is very easy to set up a wallet, purchase TON, browse the web, and interact with dApps, although it is not yet possible to stake TON or exchange it directly within the app. You’d have to go to a 3rd party site to do so. The team has announced plans to add both features to the app in the near future. Toncoin can also be purchased and sent via the Telegram app using the @wallet and @CryptoBot bots.
There are three main TON Telegram chats: TON Community Chat, TON Community, and TON Foundation.
TON Community Chat has decent daily engagement, but it’s not too encouraging as there tends to be less than 100 messages every 24 hours. Admin interaction is very good, with prompt and accurate responses to questions.
TON Community posts updates daily about the exchange listings, tokenomics, DeFi on TON, competitions, grant programs, and more. No messaging is available in this chat and each post typically receives around 100 reactions, which is decent but not outstanding.
The Open Network (TON Foundation) posts updates semi-frequently about community proposals, core updates, smart contract testing, audits, bridges, and more. No messaging or reactions available - posts tend to get tens of thousands of views.
On YouTube there is not a lot of content about TON. The TON Youtube channel has just over 3,000 subscribers and has posted 3 short videos. Last month, a respected trader Crypto Mischief released a video about TON, speaking highly of it and focusing on the decentralized phone numbers. BitBoy Crypto posted the most viewed video on TON a few months ago, which has slightly over 14,000 views but still not much engagement. TON should release more content, including interviews and additional videos demonstrating TON's applications to spread awareness.
According to Twitter, @ton_blockchain claims to have 188,000 followers, but this number is likely inflated. Many projects inflate their follower numbers, which can harm the credibility of the project. The engagement on their posts, measured by likes and retweets, does not align with the number of followers they claim to have. Despite this, their posts still receive a decent number of views, ranging from one thousand to tens of thousands in some cases.
Doing research on Twitter, Tonstarter seems to be one of the more popular TON projects. They claim to be the main fundraising platform and incubator for the TON ecosystem including stablecoin, DEX, and DeFi projects. They are also the only project listed on the TON website under the ecosystem funds.
TON believes it has the prerequisites to bring its technology to the masses as only a small percentage of the population has ever used crypto wallets. Considering its partnership with Telegram and cutting edge technology, this could be a realistic possibility.