Messaging app Telegram has rolled out a new update enabling users to create accounts using blockchain-based anonymous numbers, as opposed to cell phone numbers.
Telegram already hides people’s private phone numbers from non-added users on the app. However, users will now be able to hide numbers from everyone, which is likely to please people who value privacy-focused features.
The messaging platform has become a popular app for crypto enthusiasts. The move is part of a 9.2 update launched on Dec. 6, which also enables users to auto-delete timers on messages in new chats.
Ultimate Privacy: No-SIM Signup, Auto-Delete All Chats, Temporary QR Codes, Topics 2.0 and More https://t.co/NtpPjNnf9q
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) December 7, 2022
To use the feature, users will need to purchase “blockchain-powered anonymous numbers” from Fragment, a decentralized auction platform founded by Telegram creator Pavel Durov.
Fragment sells user names and anonymous numbers that are only compatible with Telegram. Purchases are made on the platform via Telegram’s affiliated token The Open Network (TON).
Unfortunately for United States users, however, Fragment does not offer its services to citizens located there.
Upon purchasing a number, people can then use these private numbers to receive verification code texts after signing in to Telegram.
People can purchase a random number on Fragment for 9 TON, or $16, or they can buy and sell ones via auction. It appears that some specific numbers are attracting a lot of demand, as “+888 8 888” currently has the highest bid of 33,075 TON, or $60,527 at the time of writing.
Related: WhatsApp crash: Are decentralized blockchain messengers a real alternative?
Following the FTX debacle last month, Durov revealed via his Telegram channel on Nov. 30 that the company is building a suite of decentralized tools in response to yet another occurrence of malfeasance by a centralized crypto entity.
Adding to Fragment, Durov indicated that Telegram is looking to roll out noncustodial wallets and decentralized exchanges, among other apps.
“The solution is clear: blockchain-based projects should go back to their roots – decentralization. Cryptocurrency users should switch to trustless transactions and self-hosted wallets that don’t rely on any single third party,” he wrote.