Telegram Auctions Anonymous Virtual Numbers in Form of NFTs

Multi-platform messaging service Telegram has launched anonymous virtual numbers in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that can be used to log in accounts.

The numbers are currently available of Fragment, Telegram’s crypto exchange that handles transactions for collectibles among users. Notably, the numbers are not virtual SIM cards, meaning they cannot be used to call or register for external services.

The numbers are based on The Open Network (TON) blockchain, a decentralized computer network technology originally developed by the Telegram team and generally costs 9 TON (≈ $16). However, one number currently has a minimum bid of 33,000 TON, around $60,000. 

The numbers can be used to log in to Telegram. Since these numbers are based on blockchain, they could offer unparalleled security. However, some experts have expressed concern about the regulatory side.

“Besides security, the team is bringing in additional features to bolster the relevance of the entire TON infrastructure. If the Anonymous Numbers feature provides the advertised level of security, undue data breaches and privacy invasions will all become a thing of the past. While this is innovative, regulatory concerns are worth taking note of,” said Sebastian Menge, Co-founder at Fitburn, adding:

“Regulators can argue that the anonymity the numbers will offer can foster fraudulent transactions, and on the regulatory front, the service may face a significant headwind.”

Notably, Telegram has recently announced that it is dropping the requirement to use a SIM card and phone number, while also adding some extra privacy options for all users. With this update, Telegram sign-ups will be open to almost anyone, even those without a phone number.

Since the process still needs verification, Telegram has teamed up with Fragment to use anonymous, blockchain-based numbers to sign into Telegram. That number is private and exclusive to you, much like a SIM card would be.

Telegram is also adding new features with its new update. For instance, users can now auto-delete all chats. The messaging platform has already offered self-destructing messages since 2013. It lets users delete messages they send or receive from both sides without leaving a trace. They can also set up auto-delete timers to clean up individual chats after a period of time.

“The possibility to register with a blockchain number is a step towards even more robust anonymization of users. But, in fact, you can already buy a virtual number and set up a telegram account with it. So, in the meantime, it’s rather just a new login method for users,” said Slava Demchuk, co-founder of AMLBot. 

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