After auctioning unique usernames on the TON blockchain, Telegram is now putting anonymous numbers up for bidding. These numbers could be used to sign up for Telegram without needing any SIM card.
Just like the username auction, you can buy these virtual numbers on Fragment, which is a site specially created for Telegram-related auctions. To buy a number, you will have to link your TON wallet (Tonkeeper) to the website.
You can buy a random number for as low as nine toncoins, which is equivalent to roughly $16.50 at the time of writing. Some of the premium virtual numbers — such as +888-8-888 — are selling for 31,500 toncoins (~$58,200).
Notably, you can only use this number to sign up for Telegram. You can’t use it to receive SMS or calls or use it to register for another service.
For Telegram, this is another way of asking its most loyal supporters to support the app by helping it make some money. The company launched its premium subscription plan earlier this year. On Tuesday, the chat app’s founder Pavel Durov said that Telegram has more than 1 million paid users just a few months after the launch of its premium features. While Telegram offers features like cross-device sync and large groups, it’s important to remember that chats are not protected by end-to-end encryption.
As for folks who want anonymization, Telegram already offers to hide your phone number. Alternatively, there are tons of virtual phone number services out there — including Google Voice, Hushed and India-based Doosra — that allow you to receive calls and SMS as well.