Exploring The Dormant TON Community and Its Cross-ecosystem Connectivity

Mint Ventures
10 min readMar 24, 2024


By Lydia Wu, Researcher at Mint Ventures

Decoupling the classical chain concept

The figures on DefiLlama and CoinMarketCap seem to conclusively show that TON is an “under-the-radar giant among chains” — consistently ranking within the top 20 in terms of market cap, yet its 24-hour trading volume lingers beyond the top 100. Despite reaching a new peak in Total Value Locked (TVL) at $53 million, it failed to enter the top 50 public chains; moreover, its market cap to TVL ratio hit an astonishing 293, which is 33 times that of Ethereum.

Source: DefiLlama, CoinMarketCap

Recent months have seen a decoupling in the Ethereum-defined concept of chains, facilitated by the advent of Rollups and modular approaches, diluting the traditional narrative around blockchain legitimacy. The market has accepted Blast’s mere name without substantial blockchain functionality and acknowledged Arweave AO’s actions of leveraging network effect for actual public chain operations.

This shift has accelerated the unleashing of TON’s potential under its “less legitimacy” positioning. The market’s evaluation of TON now extends beyond TVL-centric narratives of classic chains, suggesting a closer look at metrics like daily and monthly active users, adding a new dimension to understanding its value.

Recently, the founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, shared with the Financial Times that Telegram’s monthly active users have soared past 900 million, reaching a valuation of over 30 billion USD, and the company is contemplating an Initial Public Offering. This starkly contrasts with Meta’s 3 billion monthly active users and a market capitalization of 1.3 trillion USD, placing Telegram’s valuation at just 1/40th of Meta. Telegram’s user demographic is notably concentrated in Asia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East, characterized by a significant presence of retail investors and a robust demand for peer-to-peer payments, positioning it as an ideal audience onboarding into the Web3 space. As Telegram continues to expand, if TON can draw in 30% of Telegram’s users within the next 3 to 5 years, it could effectively bolster its valuation.

Source: DefiLlama, CoinMarketCap, Nansen, Token Terminal

New Paradigm of Web3 Creator Economy: Leveraging Telegram for Content Packaging and Value Transfer

Redefining Distribution: How Telegram Activates the Web2 Incremental Growth Market

Last year, I outlined the three stages of the Web3 creator economy, with Phase 1.0 embracing the straightforward “blockchain+” approach, integrating centralized content creation with Web3 distribution mechanisms, predominantly through NFTs. This model remains mainstream, except NFTs are beginning to be used more as speculative Pre-token tools rather than as creative mediums.

Throughout this year, my immersion in the TON ecosystem has gradually made me realize that, along the same attention-driven pathways, the role of NFTs wrapping content, vouchers, and governance are seamlessly supplanted by a more intuitive “channel-advertising-payment” framework. The briefly celebrated Friend.tech serves as an intermediate form of this idea — wrapping group chats into assets, albeit with limited content scalability and an unsustainable economic model.

Compared to many NFT and SocialFi projects still struggling to find application scenarios for their assets, the TON ecosystem, developed on the Telegram platform, offers a more friendly product experience and value network for Web2 developers, creators, and users — on existing social networks, further deconstructing the Web3 distribution model into a combination of traditional Web2 business practices, middleware wallets, and Web3 financial settlements. This approach not only simplifies the onboarding process for both creators and users but also diversifies the creators’ revenue streams through mechanisms like ad revenue sharing.

Source: Lydia @Mint Ventures

From Content to Services, Trading Bots Facilitate the Transition of Web3 User Base

WeChat, a super App in the Web2 space, has achieved ecosystem expansion from a content-centric to a service-oriented ecosystem by launching service accounts and mini-programs. Telegram has followed a similar path by introducing business accounts and service-oriented bots to solidify its position as a key gateway for mobile traffic, among which Trading Bots have won the favor of the crypto degens.

The Trading Bot sector has seen explosive growth since 2023, emerging as one of the few products with genuine demand and cash flow during the bear market. As the market shifts from bear to bull , the financial allure of these Bots has intensified, with leading protocols like Banana Gun and Unibot generating daily revenues exceeding $200,000. Though a minority are hosted on websites and Discord, the majority of Trading Bots are integrated through Telegram.

Source: https://dune.com/whale_hunter/dex-trading-bot-wars

At this stage, the operation of Trading Bots and TON are not closely related, primarily leveraging Telegram’s Bot module for integration with Ethereum and Solana. However, the popularity of Bots has greatly contributed to market education and the nurturing of user engagement within the TON ecosystem. As crypto enthusiasts grow more comfortable with innovative interaction models like Bots, the barrier to exploring other non-trading products within the TON ecosystem will significantly diminish. Supported by a fully on-chain identity system and payment infrastructure, TON is theoretically poised to develop a coherent system for content packaging and value transfer.

Exploring the Bazzar Mode: The Bots and Mini Apps of TON

The TON ecosystem currently hosts a range of products that, at first glance, seem to consist merely of simply Telegram Bot portals combined with HTML5 websites, coupled with lively Telegram groups flooding the screen, making one feel as if they are in a bustling and chaotic bazzar.

In the Meme project Notcoin, players engage in the activity of tapping on coins to earn points. Additionally, they can join teams led by celebrities, such as Telegram’s founder Durov, or gain attraction by sending “red packets” to friends. Through its no-frills gameplay and viral marketing strategy, Notcoin quickly attracted 5 million players within just a week, with the current player base exceeding 26 million and 1 million followers on X. In the recently launched Pre-Market trading, the biggest deal was a purchase of one billion points with 1100 $TON, which was equivalent to approximately $4521.

Farcaster, a favorite among crypto influencers, introduced its Frames in January 2024, celebrated for being “a groundbreaking innovation.” Yet, this feature’s efficacy on the densely populated mobile landscape leaves something to be desired. Although users can perform basic Swap and Mint operations, when it comes to more complex interactions, even to the extent of the simplest mini-games, executing these within a diminutive frame that takes up less than one-third of a smartphone screen can be a significant visual challenge.

By contrast, what is rarely mentioned is that the integration of Telegram and TON has already achieved an almost seamless transition from chat boxes to semi-native applications, with the response speed of calling up applications via Bots even faster than WeChat mini-programs.

In June 2015, Telegram launched its Bot feature with limitations such as the inability to custom interface design and the absence of direct client-server communication. Based on this functionality, Trading Bots act more as intermediary interfaces than independent apps, facing constraints in response speed and the challenge of conducting multiple simultaneous interactions.

In April 2022, Telegram rolled out the Mini App, granting developers complete control over user interfaces and enabling direct client-to-server communication. Mini Apps provides a more friendly user experience and enhanced composability, with seamless wallet integration and other infrastructure capabilities, making it well-suited for deploying Web3 products. Mini Apps have the potential to supplant all mobile websites.

After the launch of Mini Apps, Bots have not been relegated to obsolescence; instead, they play a “relay room” role. They serve as the primary gateway for user interactions, seamlessly connecting a series of Mini Apps.

Source: TON x Fans
Source: Lydia

Deploying a Bot or Mini App is relatively easy. Users can swiftly configure their Bot through a Q&A format on the Telegram @BotFather channel. Additionally, they can explore a virtual dining experience with a Mini App by visiting @DurgerKingBot and experiencing the setup firsthand.

Unique On-Chain Experience: A Spotlight on the TON Ecosystem

Lite Gaming

In the current landscape, where blockchain capabilities far exceed demand, the platform choice — whether it’s on Ethereum Layer2, Solana, or Binance Smart Chain — makes little difference to a game’s playability. Yet, games imbued with strong social attributes, like chess, card games, or other party games, would offer vastly different experiences when it comes to one-click sharing for team formation on Telegram or waiting for random matches with strangers on the network.

Originally an MMORPG game on Facebook, Tap Fantasy attracted over 700,000 players after venturing into Web3 on the Binance Smart Chain and Solana blockchains. By August 2023, Tap Fantasy became the premier IDO project on TonUP, the first Launchpad within the Ton ecosystem, with its token $MC achieving a sell-out in just half an hour. Come November 2023, a TON-based new version of Tap Fantasy was rolled out by Pluto, a Web3 gaming incubator. This update broke through 600,000 players in three months, with the on-chain players exceeding 16,000. A robust in-game economy propelled the value of the $MC token from a 1:5 to a 1:1 exchange rate against TON.

Catizen, a new game developed by Pluto, merges AI technology with the metaverse concept to offer a unique cat-raising experience. Its beta version was released on March 7, 2024, quickly attracting a community of over 160,000 players and 13,000 blockchain participants in merely five days. Catizen also partnered with $FISH, a leading meme within the TON ecosystem, announcing an upcoming airdrop to $FISH token holders following the conclusion of its beta testing phase.

Source: Tap Fantasy TON version dashboard
Source: Catizen dashboard

Social Inscriptions and Memes

As a novel approach to asset distribution, the expansion of the Bitcoin inscription ecosystem to multiple chains is a trending experiment. TON’s inscription ecosystem has cleverly incorporated Telegram’s front-end and native wallet, streamlining user interactions while implementing safeguards against spambots.

  • $NANO: As the first TON-20 inscription, it has injected the TON ecosystem with 20 million interactions and 36,000 unique minting addresses.
  • $GRAM: Drawing its name from the Telegram Open Network’s native token, which faced regulations from the SEC, it pioneered the deployment, minting, and transferring processes via the Telegram Mini Apps.
  • $TONOT: Breaking $NANO’s records with 61,000 unique minting addresses and 57,000 holders, TONOT facilitates transitions between inscriptions, NFTs, and tokens. Its roadmap extends to in-game currencies, decentralized identities (DID), and staking mechanisms, among other features.

Meme assets had a period of scarcity on the lesser-known TON blockchain, creating a gap in crypto awareness and interaction with TON, until Notcoin captured widespread attention.

  • $NOT: Notcoin plans to airdrop $NOT tokens in late March or early April. Pre-market trading for $NOT is currently active on Getgems, an NFT marketplace within the TON ecosystem.
  • $REDO: Inspired by a sketch made by Durov, during a protest, $REDO has risen to become the meme with the highest market cap within the TON ecosystem.
  • $FISH: Marking its place as the TON ecosystem’s first social meme, Ton Fish has amassed a community exceeding 18,000 holders.
  • $TPET: Emerging from the Ton Fish ecosystem, $TPET fair launch is ongoing until March 26. It is positioned to be the key token for the upcoming game Ton Pet: Tik Ton, offering $FISH and NFT holders a chance to participate in an airdrop.

Multichain Liquidity Launchpad

XTON is the first launchpad to introduce multichain liquidity within the TON ecosystem, featuring team members from the TON Foundation. XTON is scheduled to finalize its mainnet launch and token sale in Q1 2024 and to kick off its first project in Q2 2024. In line with XTON’s vision, the TON ecosystem is poised to bridge the gap and facilitate bilateral traffic integration between the Web2 social networking giant and the Web3 EVM-compatible world.

Moving Toward a Future of Interconnectivity

Since March, with the announcement of Telegram using TON to process advertising revenues, Binance launching a USDⓈ-M TON perpetual contract, and Telegram seeking an IPO, the TON token, previously dormant, has swiftly achieved a notable leap in both price and on-chain activity.

Source: https://www.tonstat.com/

Reflecting on TON’s journey since its 2018 inception — from Telegram’s launch to community stewardship, the establishment of the first cross-chain bridge, to the evolution of its infrastructure — the TON ecosystem’s resilience and dynamism stand out. With a 2024 focus on stablecoins, cross-chain bridges, and expansion in the Asian market, there’s an eagerness to witness TON evolve into a genuinely open network fostering interconnectivity across various regions, ecosystems, and applications, potentially offering each participant a glimpse into the long-promised future of blockchain technology.

*Data referenced in this article is updated to March 13, 2024.


  1. Transforming Telegram to Web3 with Toncoin — TOKEN2049 Singapore 2023
  2. Telegram Game ‘Notcoin’ Launches Pre-Market Trading Ahead of Airdrop
  3. Practical Guide to Developing Telegram Bots and Mini-Apps
  4. TON’s roadmap
  5. An In-depth Analysis of Inscriptions within TON Ecosystem