In-Depth Analysis of the TON Inscription Ecosystem

With Telegram as the carrier, TON users have high authenticity and low acquisition costs, making it a unique existence in today’s blockchain landscape.
Written by: Vivi, TON Foundation

From BTC to Multi-Chain: The Inscription Revolution

1.1 Driving Forces Behind the BTC Inscription Boom

  1. Financial Foundation: Thanks to the improvement in macro capital liquidity, approval of spot ETFs, and expectations for the 2024 BTC halving, the market identified BTC ecosystem inscriptions as a catalyst. An influx of capital ignited a bull market, with both narrative-led and value-driven projects racing to the forefront.

  2. Consensus Foundation: BTC’s consensus in the crypto realm is the strongest, which is less about the technology itself and more about the historical chronicles of cryptocurrencies. Developing products on an existing strong consensus is much simpler than creating new narratives or forging new consensuses.

  3. Growth Expectations: Financial markets are driven by expectations. The undervaluation and the imperfection of the ecosystem imply significant room for growth. Comparing the BTC ecosystem to Ethereum’s ecosystem, valued in hundreds of billions of dollars, the growth prospects for the BTC ecosystem are still very substantial. BTC is following Ethereum’s developmental path, where speculative actions have played a role, but also have brought capital and attention to the Bitcoin ecosystem. This craze also attracted numerous builders, laying the foundation for the development of the BTC track.

  4. Diversity of Offerings: Although Bitcoin’s inscription protocol mainly revolves around Ordinals, there are numerous competitors such as Atomical, Rune, SRC20, BRC420, Taproot Asset, etc., each with its advantages, application scenarios, and followers.

  5. Dominance of the Leading Protocol: Capital and liquidity are mainly concentrated in the leading inscription protocols like Ordinals, while other protocols usually have only one or a few projects with significant market value and liquidity. This still differs significantly from the previous bull market’s diversity.

1.2 Reasons for the Continuing Popularity of Multi-Chain Inscriptions

  1. Spillover Effect: The existence of transaction costs (miner fees) on the BTC chain acts as a barrier for many players. The prosperity of the BTC chain inscription ecosystem leads to network congestion, increasing the cost of minting inscriptions, prompting players to explore other chains for inscription projects, thus spurring the prosperity of inscription projects on other chains.

  2. Low Development and Deployment Costs: The development cost and technical requirements for inscription protocols are relatively low compared to infrastructure and most DeFi projects, which lowers the barrier for project participation. If the OP stack achieved one-click chain creation, many inscription protocols also allow for one-click deployment. Therefore, for inscription projects, the focus should be on the utility empowerment and development planning of the inscription project itself, emphasizing operations and marketing.

  3. Lottery Nature of Inscriptions: Minting inscriptions is akin to buying lottery tickets. With a plethora of targets emerging daily in the inscription protocol, liquidity is scarce. Players tend to invest small amounts, akin to purchasing lottery tickets, indicating a mindset of not wanting to miss any potential opportunity for wealth.

  4. Fair Launch as a New Narrative: Every asset has meme attributes. If a meme is a summation of a project’s mechanism, narrative, market value, background, and developmental history, then the most popular method in the secondary market currently is Fair Launch. From POW to ICO to Fair Launch, retail investors’ pursuit of an equitable participation opportunity in coin distribution has never waned. Compared to Public Sales, inscriptions epitomize this, allowing users to mint coins with minimal network Gas fees.

2. Overview of the TON Inscription Ecosystem

TON, as a significant cryptocurrency public chain, has kept pace with the recent inscription frenzy. From December to January, several inscription projects emerged on TON, including inscription protocols and foundational infrastructure. Some of these projects have achieved remarkable success, contributing to the development of the TON inscription ecosystem and actively expanding into areas like mini-app front-ends, asset trading, DeFi, protocol integration, and mini-games applications.

2.1 Tonano

Tonano, the first inscription protocol deployed on the TON blockchain (TON20), had a significant impact on the TON ecosystem. The minting of the first TON20 inscription, nano (early December 2023), served as a stress test for the network’s infrastructure, due to the high number of participants and network transactions involved.

Launched on December 5, 2023, Tonano’s TON20 inscription protocol, despite no pre-launch marketing, brought substantial traffic and transaction load to the TON blockchain, causing temporary delays and congestion. The minting was paused and then resumed on December 11, 2023, completing the minting of $nano in one day. $nano brought over 20 million interactions and 37,000 unique minting addresses to the TON ecosystem.

Following the success of $nano, other TON20 inscriptions were also actively deployed. Bolt20 completed minting on December 16 with over 31,000 minters, and attracted over 20,000 minters.

Tonano’s launch established a dual foothold in the minds of TON users and for the inscription brand itself. Looking at the BTC inscription ecosystem, the order of asset and protocol launches significantly impacts value. For example, ordi, as the first brc20 token, had a substantial influence and community consensus, aiding in its success as a leading project.

In addition to the TON20 inscription protocols (deployment, minting, querying, transferring), Tonano is also expanding its product ecosystem, launching a TON20 inscription index search, a TON20 inscription trading market, and a cross-protocol asset bridge for TON chain inscriptions. Tonano’s Marketplace has over one million dollars in transaction volume, providing necessary liquidity for TON20. The cross-protocol asset bridge enables asset exchanges between TON20 and other inscription protocols with Jetton tokens, broadening the inscription ecosystem.

Tonano plans to launch a mini-app in Q1 2024 to enhance user accessibility, consolidate its ecological status, and promote the ease and usage of inscriptions. In the future, Tonano will continue to focus on technical innovation, invest in the TON ecosystem, leverage the high concurrency and low-cost features of the TON blockchain, and utilize the 800 million-user platform of Telegram to promote widespread application of the TON network.

2.2 Gram20

Gram20, the second inscription protocol on TON, differs from TON20 with its enhanced usability and features. It is the first to use Telegram’s mini-app front-end for deploying, minting, and transferring inscriptions and has launched a trading market to provide transaction services to users. Gram20 allows for setting time intervals for minting inscriptions, penalizing early minting, and setting start times, an advancement over basic inscription protocols.

Before its launch, the Gram20 team conducted extensive marketing. Minting began on December 22, 2023, with discussions facilitated on the Odaily platform with OKX Ventures and TON DevRel managers. To ensure sustainable development, Gram20 imposed a fee on its platform for minting inscriptions, cooling community enthusiasm. The minting process lasted seven days, with completion on December 29. The fee strategy faced backlash, not due to a flawed mechanism, but because it contradicted the prevailing freemint narrative in the current inscription market.

Although gram charged a Protocol Fee for minting, the platform pledged to use these funds for future economic incentives, sustaining the GRAM project, including 50% for buybacks of GRAM tokens and 50% for infrastructure, ecosystem investments, liquidity management, team building, and marketing. Subsequently, Gram20 launched an OTC market on the Umbrella platform, drawing user attention for gram inscription trading through promotions with various institutions and KOLs.

Gram20’s market-making team is backed by diverse resources, including joint meetings and promotional campaigns with exchanges, VCs, and KOLs. As a latecomer, it gained considerable market attention, promoting exchange listings, and initiating OTC markets in collaboration with Umbrella, with protocol asset reserves for future operations.

By leveraging TG mini-apps, Gram20 initially avoided direct competition with TON-20, offering a user-friendly product aligned with TG’s mini-app strategy. Limiting mint command intervals and imposing penalties is an effective way to increase platform participation, preventing exploitation by specialized groups. Using TON smart contracts to charge users,

Gram20 innovated the Inscriptions Coin Offering (ICO) model. However, unlike traditional ICOs, the final token exchange rate can be determined by the project.

Gram20 launched a $200,000 Ecosystem Grant Program for ecological development, supporting Gram20 with wallet integration, browsers, and indexers, building a stronger ecosystem foundation. Developing inscription bridges and DEXes for DeFi, and creating Telegram Mini Apps games, Gram20 brings enriched utility to the ecosystem.


TONOT combines the concept of inscriptions with Telegram’s social attributes, creating fair inscriptions for every community user. By binding and activating Telegram accounts, TONOT ensures the authenticity of its minting users. Each activated Telegram account can mint 500 TONOT inscriptions, with an additional 50 per new invitation, up to a maximum of 2000.

Launched on January 5, 2024, TONOT’s inscription protocol witnessed unexpectedly high user participation, leading to frontend issues. After resolution, TONOT relaunched on January 11 and completed all minting within 24 hours. $TOT brought substantial interactions to the TON ecosystem, with 61,751 unique minting addresses, a record-breaking participation level for any blockchain project.

This was achieved through TONOT’s unique invitation and minting mechanisms, requiring user association with Telegram accounts and limiting the total number of inscriptions minted by a user within a certain period. TONOT’s mechanisms made it difficult for script-using individuals to cheat, ensuring a genuinely fair and transparent minting experience – true FairMint. TONOT does not charge protocol fees, allowing all users to mint TOT inscriptions for free, significantly increasing user participation.

What practical applications does TONOT offer? According to the official product plan, TONOT aims to implement:

  1. Staking and Mining: Users can stake TONOT inscriptions and mine tokens from other projects within the TON ecosystem (similar to Binance Launchpool), offering additional profit opportunities and capturing the continuous growth dividends of the TON ecosystem.

  2. Decentralized Identity (DID): Users can use TONOT inscriptions to generate exclusive decentralized identity attributes (DIDs). DIDs can be used for identity verification, digital signatures, encrypted emojis, etc., making TONOT a social currency for Telegram.

  3. In-Game Token Spending: With the development of the Telegram App, TON games will become a core business of TON. TONOT plans to collaborate with over 50 games in 2024, enriching its application scenarios. In future GameFi collaborations, TONOT will serve as a spending token, allowing users to purchase virtual items and upgrade equipment within the TON ecosystem’s GameFi, encouraging free-to-play and earn.

TONOT is the first social inscription on the TON blockchain, with over 60,000 holders. Its integration with Telegram ensures fairness, and binding with Telegram accounts assures user authenticity. TONOT’s product plan aims to expand inscription application scenarios through inscription staking, in-game currency, and paid Telegram groups, supporting the network ecology of TON.

2.4 FairTON

FairTON is a project launch platform prioritizing fairness, community nativity, and full lifecycle. FairTON goes beyond the BRC20 inscription protocol, focusing on “native” innovation for the TON blockchain and abandoning off-chain indexers, Achilles’ heel, achieving native operation of inscriptions at the smart contract level.

Fair Priority
The popularity of BTC inscriptions extended the wave of fair launches to the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem. Most inscription projects replicated the off-chain indexing solution of Bitcoin inscriptions. The technical solution for inscriptions is a compromise due to Bitcoin script limitations, not its essence. Fair and participatory token minting aligns with the original spirit of Bitcoin. Off-chain indexing not only fragments liquidity in the public chain ecosystem but also poses asset security risks, as witnessed in multiple security incidents during the development of Bitcoin inscriptions.

Community Native
The community is key to the early initiation and sustainable development of Web3 projects. As one of the world’s most popular social software platforms, Telegram, with its 800 million monthly active users, far exceeds the current participants in the cryptocurrency industry. Leveraging Telegram’s native TON support and extensive social network, FairTON aims to simplify the entry barrier for individuals and projects into the Web3 domain.

Full Lifecycle
FairTON is committed to innovative project launch methods and offers a range of token management solutions, including highly customizable vesting tools, anti-rug mechanisms to protect participant funds, and liquidity tools for projects.

FairTON introduced JettonX (Jetton eXtension) in the TON ecosystem, fully compatible with the existing Jetton token standard. Jetton (Russian for Token) is the ERC-20 token model on TON, supporting the creation of homogeneous tokens like USDT, the most widely adopted token standard in the TON ecosystem

. FairTON’s customizable implementation includes fair minting, lottery minting, proof-of-work minting, social fission airdrops, and traceable airdrops for project launches. Tokens launched via FairTON can seamlessly integrate into the TON ecosystem’s liquidity and on-chain infrastructure.

2.5 TownSquare

TownSquare is dedicated to promoting mass adoption of the TON blockchain, effectively linking Telegram’s vast 800 million user base with the inherent privacy, transparency, openness, and sovereignty of the web3 world. The project focuses on developing necessary infrastructure and key applications within the TON ecosystem. TownSquare plans to launch the first decentralized open-source inscription indexer. Additionally, the team is actively engaged in exploring and developing protocols and application tools to achieve fair and secure asset insurance.

Inscription data resides on L1, but the computation process and data results are on the indexer, essentially an off-chain server, no different from a web2 website server. Inscription holdings and transaction records are all on a website server. Any issues with the indexing service can impact assets based on this service, potentially causing an entire protocol ecosystem to collapse. There have been incidents where a protocol’s indexer had bugs, resulting in unauthorized issuance, misalignment between two indexing parties, and halting the entire protocol, causing significant community losses. Therefore, decentralized indexing of inscriptions is a necessity for the TON public chain.

Decentralized indexing is akin to nodes on a public chain, with uniform code, ensuring consistent data for anyone who downloads and runs it. This eliminates the possibility of collusion in faking index data and enhances data security. Upgrading decentralized indexing code can quickly implement protocol upgrades, greatly enhancing protocol flexibility.

Open-Source Infrastructure
Reflecting on BTC’s ecosystem development, inscription infrastructure includes indexers, wallet support, marketplaces, minting tools, and data analytics. After nearly a year of development, BTC’s ecosystem has flourished, while TON’s is just budding. Fortunately, community-launched projects like Tonano, Gram20, and TONOT have received positive initial responses.

For long-term development of the inscription ecosystem, infrastructure construction is essential. Different inscription standards lead to fragmented and closed indexing. Fair participation is part of the inscription narrative, and TownSquare is set to launch a fully open-source third-party indexing service, lowering the barrier for potential inscription project participants. TON ecosystem developers no longer need to develop their indexers, as running the open-source decentralized indexing program will be convenient. Unisat and IERC-20 planned decentralized indexers include incentive mechanisms, encouraging more people to build indexers and further enhancing decentralization.

Automated Services
Minting inscriptions is a form of PoW (Proof of Work). In both Tonano and Gram launches, I observed significant asymmetric advantages for scientists and programmers over ordinary retail investors. TownSquare will also launch an automated inscription minting bot, making inscription minting fairer.

I look forward to TownSquare bringing protocol standards to the TON inscription ecosystem, standardizing TON inscriptions, and providing users with fairer participation methods.

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3. Conclusion

Current inscription projects across various blockchain networks exhibit certain deficiencies:

  1. Sustainability Issues with Free Minting: The completely free mint approach leads to a lack of sustainability in most projects. Only a few well-funded inscription projects engage in secondary market buybacks, bear market-making costs, and stimulate trading, which represents a significant investment. Most startups struggle post-minting activities due to a lack of token incentives and sustainable fundraising capabilities. Inscription projects need to balance fair launches with sustainable development.

  2. Lack of Innovation in Copycat Inscription Protocols: Most inscription clone projects simply replicate the BRC20 data format and mechanics without considering the differences between the Bitcoin network and other general smart contract networks. To stand out in the monotonous world of inscription protocols, there needs to be innovation in technology, token economic models, and even narratives.

  3. Fragmentation in the Inscription Market: Most inscription protocols use off-chain indexing solutions, leading to a disconnect between on-chain and off-chain states. Over-reliance on centralized services limits the circulation and exchange of inscription assets, and the lack of programmable capabilities in smart contracts makes it difficult for inscription protocols to leverage blockchain’s composability and interoperability.

Fortunately, the TON ecosystem’s inscription projects have developed solutions to address these issues:

  1. Innovating Social Inscription Play via Telegram’s Infrastructure: Telegram’s mini-apps can quickly respond to a high volume of access requests and facilitate seamless on-chain transactions using the built-in official wallet @wallet or the TON network wallet TONSpace. Telegram accounts inherently protect against Sybil attacks, effectively preventing groups from “jumping the gun,” “number brushing,” and monopolizing network resources. Leveraging Telegram’s mini-apps to provide a superior product experience for Web3 users while converting Web2 users represents a better approach to achieving mass adoption.

    Protocols like Gram-20, TONOT, and FairTON, which integrate the advantages of Telegram and the TON network, have created innovative inscription protocol mini-app products that have been somewhat successful. For instance, the NEAT inscription project, publicly supported and endorsed by NEAR’s official founder, Illia, finalized minting at 24,600 addresses. In contrast, a purely community-driven project like TONOT, without official endorsement, still achieved a minting volume of 61,751 addresses. In an era where user and traffic reign supreme, TON users carried by Telegram boast high authenticity and low acquisition costs, making it a unique presence in today’s blockchain world.

  2. Adding Smart Contract Functionality to Inscription Protocols for Programmability: At TON network’s technical sharing sessions, I emphasized the flexibility of TON smart contracts. Protocols like Gram-20 can incorporate protocol fees directly into contracts, enabling sustainable development while also potentially covering users’ Gas Fees, realizing a true Free Mint. FairTON introduced the JettonX token framework, fully compatible with TON’s ERC20 standard Jetton, providing customizable solutions for various innovative project launch mechanisms. With the use of TON network’s smart contracts, flexible payment and launch methods are entirely achievable, brimming with imaginative possibilities.

  3. The Nascent TON Blockchain Inscription Ecosystem: Similar to the BTC inscription protocol, multiple inscription protocols have emerged on TON, including Tonano, Gram-20, TONOT, and FairTON, focusing on on-chain inscriptions, TG mini-apps, social attributes, and on-chain smart inscriptions. While BTC has seen the rise of inscription-based trading, lending, and stablecoin projects, TON’s inscription ecosystem is just emerging, with various players exploring the ecosystem to add more utility to their inscription products.

This concludes my public analysis report on the TON blockchain’s inscription ecosystem. I represent the TON Foundation in stating that this content does not constitute investment advice.

Deciphering the Inscription Ecosystem on TON: An Analytical Deep Dive

The emergence of inscriptions on blockchain networks marks a pivotal evolution in the digital asset space, introducing a novel layer of functionality and utility. This analysis delves into the inscription phenomenon, particularly focusing on its manifestation within The Open Network (TON) ecosystem, contrasting it with its inception on the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain. Through a comprehensive examination, this paper aims to illuminate the driving forces, challenges, and innovations shaping the inscription landscape on TON, underscoring its unique position facilitated by Telegram’s integration.

Driving Forces Behind Inscription Adoption

Factor Influence on BTC Influence on TON
Financial Foundation Spot ETFs and halving expectations catalyze interest TON’s integration with Telegram offers low user acquisition costs
Consensus Foundation Strongest in the crypto realm due to historical significance Leveraging Telegram’s infrastructure for innovative social inscription play
Growth Expectations Anticipation of ecosystem expansion and value appreciation High expectations for utility expansion and ecosystem growth
Diversity of Offerings Variety in inscription protocols like Ordinals, Atomical, etc. Innovative protocols such as Tonano, Gram-20, and FairTON adding to ecosystem diversity

Challenges in the Inscription Ecosystem

Challenge Impact on Inscription Projects
Sustainability Free minting models struggle with post-launch sustainability due to lack of incentives and funding.
Lack of Innovation Many projects replicate existing protocols without significant differentiation or innovation.
Market Fragmentation Off-chain indexing and reliance on centralized services hinder asset circulation and interoperability.

TON’s Response to Inscription Ecosystem Challenges

The TON blockchain, with its deep Telegram integration, presents novel solutions that address the inherent challenges faced by inscription projects on other blockchains:

  • Social Inscription Play: Utilizing Telegram’s infrastructure, TON inscription projects like TONOT have innovated in creating fair and community-driven models, ensuring authenticity and reducing acquisition costs.

  • Smart Contract Programmability: TON’s smart contracts offer flexibility for inscription protocols, allowing for sustainable development models and innovative project launch mechanisms. For instance, FairTON’s JettonX framework provides customizable solutions for project launches, illustrating the potential for smart contracts to enhance inscription protocol functionality.

  • Infrastructure for Mass Adoption: Projects like TownSquare aim to bridge the gap between Telegram’s vast user base and the TON blockchain, focusing on infrastructure development and key applications to facilitate easier access to inscriptions and their associated utilities.

Concluding Insights

The inscription ecosystem on TON represents a burgeoning field ripe with opportunities for innovation and growth. Unlike the fragmented and often speculative nature of inscriptions on other blockchains, TON’s approach, anchored by Telegram’s massive platform, emphasizes utility, community engagement, and fairness. As the ecosystem continues to evolve, the focus on sustainable development models, coupled with the integration of smart contract programmability, positions TON as a promising venue for the future of digital inscriptions. This analysis underscores the necessity for ongoing exploration and support for the TON inscription ecosystem, recognizing its potential to redefine digital asset interactions on blockchain networks.