We talked to Ömür Çataltepe, Business Development Leader of the Web3-focused Layer 1 blockchain Ton Foundation, developed by the Durov brothers, the founders of Telegram, about both web3 and Ton.
Ton is a blockchain that was developed by Telegram founders Nikolai Durov and Pavel Durov and is now being developed by the community. It actually has an interesting origin story. In its first round of investment, this blockchain attracts an investment of $1.7 billion. But under pressure from regulators, the investment round is canceled and then Ton officially leaves Telegram.
We are listening to the following from Ton Foundation’s Business Development Leader Ömür Çataltepe: Right now, our biggest goal is to build an ecosystem through the Layer 1 blockchain and we want to create a web3 ecosystem in this ecosystem. We aim to develop dex applications, NFT marketplaces, launchpads and bring them into the ecosystem using the Ton blockchain.
One of our most valuable partners is Telegram. On Telegram, web3 applications are built using Ton. In the past years we used to use bots just by clicking buttons and typing something. Today, however, the structure in Telegram now supports an interface. In other words, you can design applications through Telegram bots, just like mobile applications. This opens the way for many web3 applications.”
Is Ton the only partner of Telegram here or does he work with other partners?
Let me give an example. When you type “add wallet” on Telegram, there is a verified wallet that appears. And it was built on Ton. At the same time, Ton Place Market Place game market place, where games are developed in Telegram and which allows you to play games on Telegram, was also built on Ton. So here Ton’s compatibility with Telegram, especially being the crypto entity with the largest crypto community in Telegram, makes us our biggest partner.
Let’s open up the technology a little more. You do this through some webapps. Under it, application developers have the opportunity to produce content as they wish, independent of application markets. Do I understand correctly? Therefore, you support initiatives directed here.
Webapp is exactly the name of this technology. The dex I mentioned in web3 or a launchpad app can be written using webapp. It’s a highly customizable build that allows for all of these. Let’s give examples from the real world: A person can currently design an e-commerce platform using webapp technology via Telegram. The predominant wallets here are Ton wallets.
I will even give an example from a tourism project that came to us recently. In this project, it is planned to enable Telegram users to buy flight tickets, make hotel reservations, and participate in private tours without going to any other application.
Actually, this is a very good example. It means that both web3, and web2 applications can be developed on the webapp.
Ton awaits entrepreneurs with two separate funding programs
We at Ton Foundation have a community of over 3 million on Telegram. We also have two funding programs: One is Ton Grants and the other is TonCoin (TON) Fund. We have three tiers of funding on Ton Grants. Tier one Ton Footsteps: We reward community efforts of up to $5,000. In the second tier, we provide funding up to $50,000. Here we support open source or semi-commercial public interest projects. In the third tier, we have a program in which we invest in projects that do not have any specific upper limit and do not have to be open source, and we give grants.
In our Venture fund, a fund of approximately 250 million dollars is created by the combination of more than one venture fund. And this fund invests natively in projects to be developed in the Ton ecosystem. As they are Venture investments, priority is given to projects with commercial purposes. With these two programs, we actually provide support to life-touching webapp projects in the Ton ecosystem and also via Telegram within the scope of blockchain.
So where do these startups come from the most?
It actually varies from region to region. But there is a demand for gaming especially from Turkey because we have a serious workforce in the field of gaming in terms of developers. This is mostly due to the fact that there are more openmind than gaming projects.
Almost all of them want to implement their projects and games on web3 in some way and step into the web3 world. At the same time, launchpads are coming. There are also those who want to have the projects that will be over Ton go through their own launchpad or to include Ton projects in their own launchpad. We receive demand in almost every category. They mainly want to integrate our mainnet with wallets. There are those who want to create DeFi platforms. I want to talk about three projects recently: Ston, Megaton and Tsunami Exchange. These three platforms provide a decentralized exchange solution specific to Ton.
The latest example is Tsunami: Building a decentralized exchange on Telegram. You will be able to trade futures without leaving Telegram. This is the only one of its kind. There is currently no decentralized exchange solution for futures on Telegram yet.
We organized a hackhaton in the past months and many projects came. These projects received applications mainly for infrastructure development as well as developing DeFi, launchpad and gaming platforms.
We all know how painful the transition from web1 to web2 is. In fact, examples of this transition are still in our lives. Now we are talking about the transition from web2 to web3 and even examples of web4. When you consider the web1 to web migration, how do you compare to web3 migration? Or is it a much faster transition?
Web2 users i.e. non-crypto people don’t know how to use web3. In the example web2 we use web2 platforms with a username, email address or phone number and an accompanying password.
But in web3 we have to use our digital wallets now. Now people have to sign up for an exchange, buy a cryptocurrency from there, and then create a digital wallet and send it to that digital wallet. First of all, entrepreneurs need to create an innovation on this side. When we overcome these problems, I think that web3 will lead the new internet era by a wide margin. Then the real revolution will begin. This side needs to be made easier to embark retail users. Entrepreneurs should think about how we can integrate people who don’t know crypto into web3.
Another point here is the privacy of personal data. Web2 platforms store our personal data in their own central databases. This information can be read, changed or deleted. There is such a risk. But the data stored in the blockchain is only visible to our wallet if we encrypt it. It cannot be changed, cannot be deleted. Of course, this assumption varies from blockchain to blockchain. In personal data, this data crisis that Whatsapp has recently experienced, especially in Turkey, has started to lead people to cryptography a little more. I think the value of blockchain will actually increase when we realize the value of our data.
“In 2022 Whatsapp data crisis 6.9 million Turks downloaded Telegram”
It must be an advantage that Telegram is more crypto-loving than WhatsApp.
It is valuable that Telegram already attaches great importance to privacy in its structure. Certain data are requested from Pavel Durov from the Russian side, and since this is not possible structurally, Pavel Durov has to reject it. They have some major conflicts. He can’t even provide data that would benefit his own country’s intelligence. Let me give an example from an active event that happened recently: A school in Brazil is attacked and the attacking group communicates via Telegram. And unfortunately, Telegram cannot cooperate even in this regard, because structurally, the privacy of the users is at the forefront. In fact, that week, Brazil completely bans Telegram. Later, this decision is withdrawn. Because they too are aware that Telegram is designed to preserve the structure of this data. When the data crisis occurred in Whatsapp, a very serious download took place in Telegram from Turkey. According to unconfirmed data in 2022, the number of unique downloads from Turkey is around 6.9 million. There are also certain advantages. You can send a message to yourself in Telegram. You can see a picture you send there after 4-5 years. If my local device in Whatsapp does not store this data, it disappears after a while. There are serious reasons for the Web3 industry to prefer Telegram. Structurally, it is somewhat suitable for this.
To what extent is the potential you see in the Turkish market and do you encounter a demand compatible with this potential?
Ton is currently a layer one blockchain, designed to be ultra-fast and capable of handling billions of users at the same time. One of the reasons Telegram prefers Ton is this capacity of Ton. The demand in Turkey will also increase in the periods when the capacity of Tons is seen. Because some blockchains get clogged when there is high demand and transactions are confirmed late.
Are we going to see more in the bull market then?
It certainly is. We want to support the development of products that Turkish users need. For example, there is a wallet in Telegram. The main goal is to make it easier for people who don’t know crypto on Telegram to find it. The wallet was also specially designed for Ton. By being a bridge, or other exchanges can be a bridge, we want to enable Turkish users to switch quickly to products in the Ton ecosystem. These products can be decentralized exchanges, NFT marketplaces, launchpads. People may want to quickly invest in projects in the Tone ecosystem. Or he doesn’t need to invest, some projects are not done by investing, but by fulfilling the given tasks. I give an example; a project will be started, you are not asked to invest in this project, you are expected to become a member and complete the tasks. Thus, you can receive airdrops without paying any fees. These are one of the details that can attract users quickly.