September 19, 2023
Web3
6
mins
Author:
0xScope

Telegram: The new arena for Web3 growth

Messaging app Telegram recently made a major breakthrough in its continued foray into Web3 with the launch of TON Space, a self-custodial crypto wallet created by The Open Platform (TOP). Officially introduced on September 13, TON Space allows Telegram’s 800 million users to create a TON wallet through the Telegram app, therefore expanding Web3 awareness to the app’s customers.

TON Space enters the Telegram ecosystem at a point when crypto-related activities on the messaging app are rising thanks to the increasing popularity of trading bots such as Unibot, Banana Gun, and several others. In this article, we will talk about the increasing competition for Web3-related activities in Telegram.

Telegram’s long crypto road: from Gram to TON

Telegram was launched in 2014 and has been the messaging app of choice for many people in the Web3 space, going way back from the ICO boom of 2017. Perhaps sensing an opportunity to reach out to an already crypto-familiar user base, Telegram began developing a blockchain platform called the Telegram Open Network (TON) in December 2017. The company raised $1.7B in a private sale related to Gram, the blockchain’s native crypto.

However, in 2019, the U.S. SEC stepped in to stop the distribution of Grams to initial buyers, and the subsequent legal battle resulted in a settlement between Telegram and SEC, which effectively stopped the messaging app from continuing its involvement in TON and forced the company to return $1.2B to the Gram private sale’s buyers.

Following Telegram’s departure from the project, a group of TON supporters, now collectively known as the TON Foundation, continued the development of the blockchain. The TON project began distributing its native crypto Toncoin ($TON) as a reward mechanism for the network’s contributors.

Fast forward to 2023, TON has become more visible on Telegram through various solutions that are added to the messaging app’s ecosystem of features. In July 2023, the Telegram Wallet bot, which lets Telegram users buy and sell cryptocurrencies, launched a new Wallet Pay service as a custodial solution for paying crypto within the messaging app. Wallet Pay was built on the TON blockchain, a sign of things to come for crypto integration in Telegram.

In September 2023, during the Token2049 crypto conference, Telegram and TON Foundation jointly announced the launch of self-custodial wallet TON Space, serving as an extension of the Telegram Wallet bot. That custodial service currently has 3 million registered users, and the entry of TON Space provides a self-custodial crypto storage and payment solution for not only those users, but also the rest of the 800 million Telegram users that can opt to use the built-in crypto solution. TON Space

TON Space enters the Telegram ecosystem at a time when there’s a new type of crypto activity gaining prominence for many Web3-oriented Telegram users: the use of trading bots.

The rise of Telegram trading bots

For some Telegram users who are into Web3, the main crypto-related activity is related to trading bots, which allow these users to automatically execute trades on decentralized exchanges without leaving the app. Trading bots allow users to set predetermined rules or trading crypto to streamline the crypto buying process. A lot of these bots also support multiple wallets and copy trading functions, as well as stop-loss, take-profit, and liquidity sniping transactions, mostly in an automated manner. As of August 2023, these bots have handled $283M in trading volume, according to Binance Research. Two of the most prominent names among the dozens of trading bots available are Maestro, Unibot, and Banana Gun.

Initially, the biggest name in Telegram bot trading is Maestro, which launched in July 2022 and reached its monthly earnings peak in May 2023 with about $5.9M in revenues collected. As of September 2023, Maestro’s total earnings reached $23M. But since the second half of this year, Maestro has lost significant market share to newcomers Unibot and Banana Gun.

Unibot was launched on May 17 on the Ethereum mainnet and has since hit a peak market share of 33.8% on July 30. Since Maestro hasn’t revealed its trading volumes, Unibot currently ranks as the trading bot with this highest lifetime volume at $331.3M, earning them 1,716.9 ETH ($2.8M) in trading fees in the process.

Another fast-rising trading bot on Telegram is Banana Gun, which has recently surpassed Maestro in market share with 42.7% compared to Maestro’s 38.4%, despite being launched on June 2. Within just more than three months of its existence, Banana Gun reached $234M in lifetime volume, resulting in $1.3M in revenues.

Due to the increased competition, trading bots on Telegram have cumulatively processed $603M in total trading volume, at least among the bots that disclosed volumes. With other major bots still not disclosing their volumes, there’s a possibility that bot-related volumes could be near or above $1B.

Conclusion

The entry of TON Space in an already resurgent market for crypto trading on Telegram signals that the messaging app is an emerging space for increased Web3 adoption. TON Space and Telegram bots focus on different areas of Web3 activity, so there’s a chance that these services can be complementary to each other.

It remains to be seen whether TON Space gets used by the 3 million users that are already on Telegram wallet. But its prominent placement on the Telegram app is already a huge advantage when it comes to expanding its user base.

As for trading bots, their cumulative user base is currently at 106,606 unique users. And while more bot services gain the attention of the general Web3 public, their activities are mostly hinged on trades on DEXes, so they will likely go for quality instead of quality by focusing on specific users with huge crypto funds, which will hamper their growth in terms of the number of users. Meanwhile, there are security risks inherent with the use of trading bots, particularly related to the fact that these bots lack secure self-custody, a concern that is lessened by the self-custodial nature of TON Space.

Nevertheless, in the bigger picture, the collective actions of Web3 solutions on Telegram present a wealth of opportunities for the increased adoption of Web3 to an audience as big as Telegram’s 800-million-strong user base.

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