For those of us with common names, creating a username on social media can be an extremely tedious process.
Imagine trying to input a username that you really want, only to get rejected because someone else already choped it a long time ago. Often, we resort to adding a splash of uniqueness with the use of underscores or some other symbol.
It doesn’t feel the same as getting the username you wanted in the first place though.
At the rate we are going, I am willing to bet that we will exhaust all pronounceable usernames very soon.
Even a username like 21sdlfjl224! may be taken eventually.
If this is a problem that frustrates you, maybe you’ll take a liking to Telegram’s solution.
Introducing Telegram’s New Feature
Recently, Telegram rolled out a new feature: You can now buy and sell usernames.
Telegram is notably one of the first social networks to give people the opportunity to gain complete ownership of their usernames.
Using the TON blockchain, users can now buy and sell unique, recognisable usernames.
If you are familiar with how cryptocurrency works, navigating this new feature will be easy for you.
These transactions are done on Fragment, a free decentralised platform that handles transactions for collectibles (in this case, telegram usernames).
However, in order to be eligible to buy or sell a Telegram username, there are a few requirements.
Firstly, you would need to have been a long-time user of Telegram.
Secondly, you would need to have a registered short username.
Finally, you need to have a secure wallet on the TON app.
The last bit is a little tricky but crucial, considering that these username exchanges are funded with real money.
Just like in real life where you would need money in your wallet (digital or physical) to buy a cup of bubble tea, you would need to ensure that you have enough funds in your wallet in the TON app in order to buy a username.
How Does it Work?
Basically, the process of buying and selling Telegram usernames is a live auction.
Think of the auctions you see in movies, where everyone is fighting to be the highest bidder for a precious artefact.
It’s the same here, except that there is way less noise and everything happens on Fragment.
When you exchange for a username, you get Toncoin.
Not a-ton-of coins, as the name might suggest, but a cryptocurrency that corresponds to the worth of the username.
Since the exchange is just a digital auction, the highest bidder will get the username, which sounds anticlimactic in comparison to the glitz and glamour of the auctions you see on shows.
Buying a Telegram username is straight-forward enough. Just make sure you are the highest bidder and you’ll gain ownership of the username.
However, selling your Telegram username is a process that is more difficult to explain.
To sell your own Telegram username, you would need to set the minimum price you are willing to sell it for by scanning a code with Tonkeeper.
If nobody outbids you, you get your bid. However, if someone outbids you, they get your username and you gain the proceeds.
Note that this excludes conversion fees.
Reasoning Behind this Feature
This new feature was brought about in collaboration between Telegram and Fragment. Apparently, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov saw the success of the TON blockchain in domain name auctions and wanted in.
For instance, the domain “Wallet.ton” had been sold for 215,250 Toncoin, with is equivalent to USD$260,000.
The feature still isn’t available in some countries. Furthermore, it currently only allows the exchange of cryptocurrencies like TON and Bitcoin (BTC) for certain fiat currencies.
Unfortunately, for those who wanted to auction for Telegram usernames, the Singapore dollar is currently not under the list of fiat currencies that allow this exchange.
Only six fiat currencies are accepted: US dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), Russian Ruble (RUB), Ukranian Hryvnia (UAH), Belarusian Ruble (BYN) and Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT).
What Else Can You Bid For?
Right now, users can also bid on channels, stickers and emojis.
In addition, Telegram has begun putting anonymous numbers up for bidding, meaning that you can sign up for a Telegram account without needing any SIM card.
This is the perfect feature for those who are scared of their number being leaked via Telegram, since you can only sign up for the instant messaging app using a number.
Once again, these virtual numbers are up for bidding on Fragment.
Here’s the catch: You can’t use this number to receive messages, calls or sign up for another service. Their only use is to maintain your actual phone number’s anonymity on Telegram.
Should You Do it?
While it sounds awesome to be able to have full ownership over your username, there are some risks involved.
For starters, the TON blockchain is a form of cryptocurrency. From 2019 to 2022, police reports of cryptocurrency scams have risen at an alarming pace.
Furthermore, such scams are often orchestrated by scammers based outside of Singapore. Thus, launching a police report against a crypto-scammer may be futile as there is a limit to what local law enforcement can help with.
In addition, the very nature of cryptocurrency is highly volatile and speculative. This can potentially cause you to lose everything within moments. I mean, you know how 2022 has treated cryptocurrency, right?
Right now, Telegram already has an option to hide your phone number from others within the platform. Would the risk carried by cryptocurrency be worth just to secure the ownership of a username?
Featured Image: tovovan/Shutterstock.com; Fragment.com