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Telegram's Ecosystem Expansion, A WeChat-Inspired Revolution?

Striking resemblance to the trailblazing super app approach pioneered by WeChat. A thrilling evolution from Telegram
September 27, 2023

In the world of messaging apps, Telegram has been a prominent name, boasting a staggering 800 million monthly active users worldwide. But it seems the messaging giant has its sights set on something grander—an ecosystem strategy reminiscent of WeChat's super app approach. This ambitious move aims to decentralize certain aspects of the ecosystem and has found powerful allies in Telegram's crypto partner, the TON Foundation, and WeChat's owner, Tencent.

At the heart of this transformation lies Telegram's endeavor to create a platform where third-party developers, spanning industries from gaming to dining, can construct mini apps that seamlessly engage with users. In Telegram's own words, "Developers can use JavaScript to create infinitely flexible interfaces that can be launched right inside Telegram — and can completely replace any website."

To realize this vision of a super app platform, Telegram is enlisting a network of infrastructure partners, encompassing both established tech titans and crypto innovators. Among these partners stands The Open Network (TON) Foundation, a crucial blockchain enabler for Telegram, operating independently.

This week, the TON Foundation announced a strategic partnership with Tencent Cloud, a move poised to elevate the super app platform. Tencent Cloud, renowned for its support to TON validators, intends to expand its services further, catering to TON's high compute intensity and network bandwidth requirements. Validators, in the realm of web3, play a crucial role in authenticating transactions within a blockchain network.

The partnership holds promise for projects built on TON, offering dedicated cloud credits and product discounts through the Tencent Cloud Startup Program. This collaboration could particularly benefit Telegram's games built on TON, enhancing their capabilities through Tencent Cloud's gaming solutions.

Tencent's overseas expansion endeavors are evident, especially in its cloud computing business, which has made appearances at tech conventions, including crypto conferences. The partnership with Telegram could prove highly advantageous if Telegram's mini-app marketplace gains traction similar to its Chinese counterpart.

WeChat's pioneering mini app model in China has witnessed meteoric success, hosting millions of apps serving functions spanning payments, food delivery, e-commerce, ride-hailing, and even driver's license renewal. With a decentralized payments network, Telegram's mini app ecosystem has the potential to reach an even broader global audience.

Justin Hyun, head of growth at TON Foundation, sees the parallels between WeChat and Telegram mini apps, predicting that WeChat developers already utilizing Tencent's cloud services may expand to build on TON. While the transition may pose some challenges, it also offers insights into leveraging a messenger for various purposes, akin to WeChat's payment functionality that proved pivotal in its rise.

Unlike WeChat's in-house payment system, Telegram integrates with 20 payment solutions and charges no commission through its Bot Payments API. Additionally, Telegram recently embraced a self-custodial wallet developed independently by The Open Platform (TOP), utilizing the TON blockchain. This crypto wallet opens up possibilities for various transaction scenarios, particularly in regions where centralized online payments are scarce.

The journey ahead for Telegram and TON is intriguing, as they draw inspiration from WeChat's success to develop a mini app platform with a decentralized twist. It's a compelling transformation that could reshape how users interact with messaging apps and beyond.

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