Telegram Merchants Gain Access to In-App Crypto Payments for First Time

Wallet, which is built on the TON blockchain, is allowing merchants to integrate cryptocurrency into the bots they use to accept payments in the messaging app.

AccessTimeIconJul 13, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Jul 20, 2023 at 2:57 p.m. UTC

Merchants on messaging app Telegram are now able to accept payment in cryptocurrency as services provider Wallet expands beyond its chat-centric payments mechanism.

Wallet, which is built on The Open Network (TON) blockchain, already allows crypto transfers between users in chats. Now it's letting merchants integrate cryptocurrency into the bots they use to accept payments, it said in an emailed announcement on Thursday. The system allows for payment for goods and services using tether (USDT), bitcoin (BTC) and toncoin (TON).

"In the past, DIY solutions have been available in the form of relatively primitive bots with links to cryptocurrency payment systems or similar products attached to them," the Wallet team told CoinDesk. "With WalletPay, merchants can now seamlessly accept cryptocurrency payments within the Telegram app, with features available such as the ability to make payments directly within chats.”

While the provision for crypto services within Telegram began over a year ago by making the sending and receiving of it in theory as simple as sending an instant message, it's still not been widely adopted. Just 2 million of the more than 700 million Telegram members use Wallet services, the payments provider said.

Telegram's cryptocurrency journey goes back some years to its development of the TON blockchain project. This development was abandoned in 2020, however, owing to legal battles with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

TON was kept alive by members of its community, calling themselves The TON Foundation, who have continued to advance the project.

UPDATE (July 13, 10:25 UTC): Adds bitcoin to cryptos supported by Wallet Pay.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Jamie Crawley

Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.