A Brief Discussion on Inbound Traffic for Crypto — Telegram, Discord & PWA

Kernel Ventures

The trajectory of inbound traffic depends heavily on two factors: user experience and regulatory considerations.

Author: Turbo Guo

Editor(s): Rose, Mandy, Joshua


Telegram, which has the potential to drive inbound traffic, has recently gained significant attention. This article provides an overview of crypto-related apps on Telegram, while conducting an analysis of its strengths and areas that need improvement. Furthermore, it delves into why Discord had the opportunity to be a hub for inbound traffic but failed to capitalize on it, and explores the potential role of browsers, specifically Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), as a means of capturing inbound traffic. The key points are as follows:

  • Telegram has a diverse array of crypto-related apps providing users with a smooth onboarding experience, making it an excellent platform for crypto apps. However, the app center and various bots mixed with chat channels may cause inconvenience for users.
  • Telegram isn't confined to the TON ecosystem; it readily integrates various chains and protocols. The existence of trading bots for the EVM ecosystem and multi-chain wallet tracking apps attests to this.
  • Discord had the potential to serve a role similar to Telegram's, as the capabilities of its bot system are also very broad. However, it may have been hindered by the animosity of its primary user base of gamers, crypto-related fraud affecting user security, and regulatory uncertainty, all of which deterred it from fully embracing crypto.
  • Browser apps are highly compatible with the existing crypto ecosystem. Yet, for mobile "inbound traffic", specific apps, such as Friend.tech, may supersede Metamask.
  • The trajectory of inbound traffic depends heavily on two factors: user experience and regulatory considerations. In terms of user experience, apps equipped with built-in crypto functionalities, like Telegram and Friend.tech, hold significant appeal. Concerning regulations, traditional social media giants face tremendous pressure, thereby creating opportunities for native apps with looser regulations.

Telegram Driving Inbound Traffic to Crypto

Telegram hosts numerous crypto apps. Firstly, let's examine the various forms and methods of accessing these apps.

Source: Kernel Ventures

There are two types of "apps" in Telegram. One is the Telegram bot that interacts through the chat box, and the other is the Telegram Web App (TWA) that calls up a small web page window. In the figure below, Unibot on the left is a typical bot, while the soccer game on the right, as well as many blockchain games in Telegram, are TWAs. In terms of implementation, TWA uses JavaScript, HTML and CSS to implement many features in Telegram through a small web browser.

There are three ways to access apps in Telegram: via links, searching app names, and accessing from the Telegram apps center. Accessing via links and searching names is no different from joining a channel normally. The same applies when entering the app center - via links or searching for @tapps_bot.

Source: Unibot and Fanton Fantasy Football interfaces

Telegram accommodates not only TON chain ecosystem projects but also apps based on other public chains, which we will discuss separately.

TON Ecosystem Apps

First are the wallets. Telegram previously had many wallets, such as Tonkeeper, MyTonWallet, Tonhub, etc. But now that the official hosted wallet - "Wallet" and built-in non-custodial wallet "Ton Space" are out, previous wallets will face greater challenges.

Wallet is a hosted wallet that supports payments with USDT, TON and BTC. Ton Space non-custodial wallet is being tested within Wallet. In the future, users will be able to access DeFi apps in TON Space, such as DEXs, staking and lending protocols, and also directly access dapps on the TON blockchain. In addition, TON Space uses email for wallet recovery , which is very user-friendly in actual experience, although there may be security risks.

In terms of DeFi, the TON ecosystem is still at a very early stage. DEXs include Megaton Finance, STON.fi, DeDust.io and the cross-chain STON. Lending protocols include Evaa, derivatives Storm Trade. In addition, the TON ecosystem already has a launchpad Tonstarter and domain names TON DNS.

The TON NFT ecosystem has started to take shape. NFT marketplaces such as Fragment and Getgems offer users the opportunity to purchase Telegram Usernames and Anonymous Numbers. On top of that, Getgems users can also purchase other NFT projects on TON. Although Fragment has higher transaction volume than Getgems, the TON NFT market's overall transaction volume as of September 25th indicates growth. Projects within this ecosystem share similarities with those in the Ethereum ecosystem, featuring collections like TON Diamonds and TON Punks.

Source: nftscan, 2023/09/25

Another major category consists of games integrated with TON, including Fanton Fantasy Football, a P2E football card placement game where you earn tokens by winning, seamlessly connecting to the TON ecosystem; punkcity, a turn-based fighting game where you earn tokens by winning; Tongochi Game, also a P2E game, is an MMORPG currently in the demo stage.

There are also many ancillary tools, such as TON Wallet Tracker and TON Notify Bot, enabling users to track tokens and NFT flows in the TON ecosystem; NFT TONificator tracks selling activities for specific NFT collections; Community serves as an onboarding bounty tool; while Ton Gifts Bot allows users to send gifts to friends. There is also an all-in-one assistant bot, Friends All-in-One BOT which aims to first deliver translation, new NFT mint reminders and NFT floor price alerts. These features are not yet online and will be provided separately by three new bots.

Notably, there's also a mobile service tool, enabling the purchase of eSIM cards and facilitating online access while traveling internationally. Most importantly, it allows payment not only by credit card, but also by TON wallet.

Ethereum Ecosystem Apps

Source: DUNE @tk-research

In this category, we delve into trading bots that previously enjoyed high levels of hype. Abstracting away the details, we see trading bots are essentially commission-based agent services. Judging from weekly transaction volume, Telegram bots are now experiencing a cool-down phase after the initial surge in popularity.

In essence, Unibot operates as an intelligent agent. It requires users to deposit funds into the official wallet, then enabling actions that trigger limit orders, auto-follow orders, auto-buy tokens etc. via the Telegram chat box. Unibot first sets up an EOA for the user, who then deposits funds into it. When the user initiates a transaction (e.g. selling tokens on Uniswap), theoretically the user's EOA can directly interact with Uniswap, but now it first goes through Unibot's router contract via the EOA. Unibot's contract will call Uniswap's contract to sell. Going through Unibot's official contract allows for various functionalities, including fee collection. Each time Unibot changes its contract, it is likely updating features. Currently, the contract code is not open source.

Unibot Transaction Flow Source: Kernel Ventures

Other similar trading bots include Banana Gun, Maestro and DexCheck and etc. Banana Gun requires users to input private keys or generate new addresses through the official bot. Its advantages include detecting sandwich attack risks and automatically canceling transactions, optimizing block tips etc. Maestro is also a trading bot, providing whale tracking, token trading etc. DexCheck also does wallet tracking, new token contract sniping, token trading.

From a transaction volume point of view, Unibot ranks first, followed by Banana Gun. In terms of DAU, Maestro ranks the highest, but only slightly above Banana Gun and Unibot.

Source: DUNE @whale_hunter, 2023/09/25 1:10

There are also service projects based on the Ethereum ecosystem that issue tokens. Such as LootBot, which helps users automatically claim airdrops. Holding $LOOT tokens entitles you to profit sharing rewards. IMGNAI made a bot for users to generate images by sending messages in channels. The project promises future rights for token holders, and the token is on Ethereum. ChainGPT offers various services within the Ethereum ecosystem with its tele bot serving as a general LLM to generate smart contract code, audit contracts etc. While $CGPT is primarily used to purchase services within ChainGPT, staking services for profit are also provided and token used in this case operates on Ethereum. These projects highlight the use of Ethereum for token issuance, with tokens serving as a means to access services, enhancing their utility.

Multi-Chain Ecosystem Apps

On Telegram we can also see apps that support multiple chains, mainly data services or ancillary tools. Four representative examples are as follows:

  • Cielo is a fairly comprehensive wallet tracking bot that handles multiple chains very well. It can track various activities like swaps, borrowing, NFT minting across dozens of chains for a single wallet, and also track large token transactions. It is worth mentioning that Cielo's user experience is relatively good.
  • Pessimistic Spotter can detect if a contract has been attacked, supporting contracts on Ethereum and BSC including Uniswap.
  • CoinCrackerBot can track token prices, deliver price alerts etc. This product enhances convenience by providing alerts and information directly within chat applications.
  • Crypto research is used to track project progress. Users can subscribe to projects like 1inch, Aave etc., opt to receive all news or only highlights, with the bot subsequently delivering updates.

Telegram - Advantages and Areas of Improvement

One of Telegram's outstanding features is its exceptionally smooth user experience. Every action, from transfers to app interactions and engagement with bots, unfolds seamlessly. Telegram outperforms most Web3 products and even surpasses some Web2 products like Discord in terms of user experience.

The downside is that accessing the Telegram apps center is somewhat complex. The app center isn't readily accessible within Telegram's native interface and requires external links for entry. The process mirrors that of joining a new Telegram channel, or users must actively search for it. Furthermore, the app center and its contents are all mixed with existing channels, making them challenging to discover. If users have to pin them manually, they'll be grouped with important chats. In addition, many Telegram apps create separate bots for each feature, potentially overwhelming users when managing these bots. To enhance user experience, Telegram should consider developing a dedicated interface for apps, simplifying the process of locating frequently used apps.

Currently Telegram excels in meeting the basic transfer needs of regular users, while EVM-based Telegram bots cater to the requirements of retail investors, particularly regarding participation in new token launches. How TON builds large-scale DeFi apps moving forward is worth further exploration.

Trading bots provide a new perspective - Telegram can serve as a frontend for various on-chain apps across different chains. Not only can DeFi protocols share a common frontend, people can also integrate various protocols within Telegram. With projects helping users manage this, users may not even need to know about the existence of individual chains, which has great potential for significantly lowering the barrier to crypto usage via Telegram. Of course, direct Ethereum usage within Telegram presents certain challenges, including how to facilitate easy signing within the application.

The official Telegram team is currently actively promoting the growth of TON ecosystem, while Unibot-styled bots originating outside the TON ecosystem are also making progress. The future development of this landscape is something worth keeping an eye on.

Discord as a Hub for Driving Inbound Traffic to Crypto

Source: Tweet by Discord CEO

Discord tried integrating MetaMask back in 2021. If widely promoted, we can envision people transferring and paying within Discord. Various dapps could even develop their own channels or bots for users to swap, borrow etc in Discord, making Discord the frontend for all crypto activities.

In fact, Discord already has many crypto use cases. Bankless DAO uses Discord as a governance tool, developing governance bots and processes - like verifying NFTs to obtain identity, granting access to certain channels based on token holdings etc. Especially during the NFT summer, Discord became the most important community tool for NFT projects. People earned roles, whitelists, launched AMMs, amassing significant community engagement. Discord officials also solicited NFT-related feedback from users, indicating the team is seriously considering adjustments to the product for NFT communities. In theory, Discord bots could facilitate numerous functions, including wallet tracking, monitoring NFT buy/sales, managing whitelists and more.

Source: Bankless DAO Discord

But why didn't Discord continue pushing forward? There are three possible reasons:

  • Resentment from the primary user base of gamers
  • Excessive fraud affecting user security
  • Unclear regulation

Discord's original vision was "Chat for Gamers". It also gained traction by serving gamers. According to a 2021 CNBC report, 70% of users were on Discord for gaming or other purposes. Despite a shift in the company's vision to "Chat for Communities and Friends," expanding the user base, it's evident that the core audience remained gamers. When Discord ventured into supporting NFT communities, many users voiced their objections and canceled Nitro subscriptions. In fact, the gaming community has long held resentment towards the crypto community, dating back to the POW era when mining caused GPU prices to skyrocket, making it more expensive for gamers to purchase hardware. After mining cooled off, gamers could easily purchase second-hand mining GPU (GPU used extensively for mining, which some gamers feel are overused). This dissatisfaction appears to have persisted, resulting in resistance to crypto initiatives on the platform.

In addition, Discord's founder tweeted and expressed concerns about the large amount of crypto-related spam and fraud, ephasising the platform's foucs on user protection. This stance led to a reluctance to fully embrace crypto. As a compliant platform, Discord's cautious approach to reducing fraud was reasonable. Additionally, the lack of regulatory clarity at the time could have posed significant risks, including potential losses of user assets that Discord could not afford.

This also reflects the core differences between Discord and Telegram - user profiles and platform positioning. Discord's main users are compliant, many being gamers, while Telegram accommodates a more diverse range of users, including those operating in the unregulated space of the crypto world. Telegram's more assertive push into crypto doesn't evoke the same resistance from its core users as seen on Discord. Discord positions itself as a community tool, while Telegram's attributes are similarly gray, and the impact of spam and regulation on Telegram is less compared to Discord, benefiting Telegram's Crypto ambitions.

Browsers (PWA) as a Vehicle for Driving Inbound Traffic to Crypto

Replacing native apps with browsers/webpages, particularly in certain scenarios, is an intriguing development. Friend.tech uses PWA; Photoshop offers a web version utilizing cloud storage for users to switch between devices; and cloud gaming is gaining traction. On one hand, with cloud computing development, Cloud-based web apps can now offer more features. On the other hand, PWA does offer many advantages.

For example, PWAs can work offline, support dynamic content updates, push notifications, and has cross-platform compatibility. PWAs can also access phone hardware like cameras or GPS, similar to regular native apps. Regarding convenience, there's an ongoing debate about whether web or native apps are more user-friendly. Some argue that webpages, which can be instantly accessed via links, are more convenient than app installations. But others feel that with apps already installed, opening them directly from the desktop is more convenient than going to the browser and typing the URL. With PWAs, the experience is nearly identical. In the desktop web environment, the current wallet plugin system is already quite mature. We can even envision invoking wallet plugins while playing web games, or invoking other web DeFi apps. In addition, PWAs have the advantage of bypassing platforms like Apple, avoiding commission fees which holds significant values for crypto applications.

However, the question arises: will wallets continue to serve as the primary source of "inbound traffic" in browsers? On mobile, platforms like Friend.tech indicate that this might not be the case, as users appear receptive to built-in wallets. Depositing funds into an app, possibly on Layer 2 (L2) or entrusting them to the project, is acceptable for users. The specifics of which wallet is used become secondary for users. In this context, invoking MetaMask separately on mobile devices results in a suboptimal user experience. Therefore, specific social apps can replace MetaMask when it comes to capturing inbound traffic.

The core focus of establishing a sustainable revenue model is not about the wallet but involves in providing various services that can seamlessly integrate with built-in wallets, such as Friend.tech.

Source: Friend.tech's Buy Key interface


Comparing Telegram, Discord and PWA shows that the key to driving inbound traffic depends on two pivotal factors - user experience and regulatory considerations. Telegram's seemless user experience surpasses many cryptonative apps, and undoubtfully represents a notable advantage. On mobile devices, built-in wallet apps, such as Friend.tech, diminish the competitive advantages of Metamask as the primary source of "inbound traffic." On the regulation front, traditional social media giants encounters tremendous pressure when it comes to engaging with the crypto space. As a result, platforms with less stringent regulations, like Telegram, and native apps such as Friend.tech, are presented with greater opportunities.


  • TWA Examples:https://docs.ton.org/develop/dapps/telegram-apps/app-examples
  • TON blockchain: a group of related whales mined 85% of TON supply:https://medium.com/@whiterabbit_hq/ton-blockchain-a-group-of-related-whales-mined-85-of-ton-supply-2e3300cc93bc#:~:text=At%20least%2085.8%25%20of%20the%20token%20supply%20was%20distributed%20between,impact%20on%20the%20TON%20price.
  • Discord Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023):https://www.businessofapps.com/data/discord-statistics/
  • NFTs and crypto wallets could be in Discord’s future:https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/09/discord-nfts-metamask-crypto/
  • Overview of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs):https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/progressive-web-apps-chromium/
  • Will Web Apps Replace Websites and Mobile Apps?:https://topdigital.agency/will-web-apps-replace-websites-and-mobile-apps/
  • TON基金会Vivi——社交和游戏资产类NFT 将在 TON 区块链上占有更大的市场份额:https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/t4OMitWh7YnAYzFCODronQ



Kernel Ventures

Kernel Ventures is a research & dev community driven crypto VC fund with more than 70 early stage investments, focusing on infrastructure, middleware, dApps, especially ZK, Rollup, DEX, Modular Blockchain, and verticals that will onboard the next billion of users in crypto such as Account Abstraction, Data Availability, Scalability and etc. For the past 7 years, we have committed ourselves to supporting the growth of core dev communities and University Blockchain Associations across the world.

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