TON Innovators: TonX Studio

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Today, we bring you another interview from the TON Innovators series, where we look at exciting projects built within the TON Ecosystem. Today’s edition is slightly different, as we’re not interviewing a project but a group of TON contributors based in Asia who are committed to nurturing innovation and shaping the future of the next-gen internet.

TonX Studio was founded in 2021 as a venture studio, founded by early TON developers and investors. Their portfolio includes products like TonStake, the first public staking validator, and TonKey, a multi-sig TON wallet that sets new security and convenience standards.

TonX regularly hosts impactful hackathons that cultivate talent and foster a vibrant Asian community. Currently, they’re working on TonFura, a key infrastructure for tApps and TON.

TonX Studio: Leading the Charge in Next-Generation TON Blockchain Technology

TonX Studio

Can you explain TonX Studio to our readers who might not be familiar with the concept of a venture studio? What do you do?

TonX Studio, a team dedicated to the research and development of the foundational technology of TON Blockchain, has been deeply involved in exploring key technologies such as TON Validator, TON DNS, TON Storage, and TON Proxy since 2021. In the early stages of TON's relaunch, due to their outstanding research and technical contributions, TonX Studio joined the Newton team, working together to build the next generation of blockchain.

Beyond technical development, TonX Studio is also actively engaged in community building, having organized multiple TON Meetups and hackathon competitions. Through these events, we have successfully incubated numerous TON blockchain development teams, spanning innovative areas like physical payment systems, zero-knowledge proof applications, transaction visualization systems, transaction tracking systems, oracles, decentralized exchanges, and multi-signature wallets.

As an experienced blockchain development team, we have invested our decade-long experience in cryptocurrency into the Web3 era of TON Blockchain. Our scope of work includes in-depth study of TON-related technical literature, analyzing related project codes on GitHub, collaborating with top TON developers worldwide, and working closely with the TON core team to jointly address issues and optimize the blockchain network. We are committed to the foundational infrastructure of the TON blockchain, tirelessly striving to create a more robust and efficient TON ecosystem.

Who are the founders of TonX Studio?

I am Dr. Awesome Doge, the founder of TonX Studio and a seasoned scholar in the fields of blockchain technology and privacy. Since 2013, I have delved deeply into studying Bitcoin, privacy protection, and the Tor network. My work, which includes numerous research papers on Bitcoin, artificial intelligence, and anonymous networks, has significantly contributed to developing these areas.

Beyond my academic achievements, I have been actively promoting the application of Bitcoin in Asia. I established the largest Bitcoin community in the Chinese-speaking world, which now boasts over 160,000 members. Under the influence of this community, numerous entrepreneurs have emerged, leading to the creation of various innovative projects and exchanges, and I have witnessed their rise and decline.

In March 2021, my deep interest in The Open Network (TON) and its Newton community inspired me to dedicate myself fully to the research and development of the TON blockchain. This includes working on several key technological areas such as TON Validator, TON Storage, TON Proxy, TON Payment, and Multisig.

Can you briefly describe your mission and vision? Why did you decide to develop the TON Ecosystem?

Dr. Awesome Doge: Founder of TonX Studio and Blockchain Technology Pioneer:

I have participated in numerous leading research projects covering key technologies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Layer 2, ZCash, and Ethereum. From these studies, we've observed several limitations in the development of Bitcoin. Initially designed for basic transactions, the introduction of Ethereum in 2015, with its virtual machine concept, brought the innovation of smart contracts to the blockchain world. Furthermore, the advent of Ethereum led to the widespread application of Fungible Tokens (FT) and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) since 2017. The launch of various Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications in 2018 laid the foundation for today's DeFi infrastructure. The mass popularity of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in 2020 marked the beginning of a new era. In recent years, with the rapid development of blockchain applications, decentralized infrastructures have faced a demand exceeding supply. The cost of executing smart contracts once soared to $300 per transaction, highlighting the issues of high fees and long transaction confirmation times. To address these challenges, the industry spent over eight years seeking high-speed blockchain solutions, focusing on Layer 2, Sharding, and Proof of Stake. In 2018, Telegram proposed a solution based on Sharding and PoS and launched the largest ICO in history - Telegram Open Network (TON).

I believe The Open Network will be the ultimate blockchain solution, considering both the technical advantages of TON Blockchain and the importance of messaging software in the evolution of the internet. Previously, messaging apps like WeChat and Line integrated traditional financial payment methods, such as Visa and Mastercard, demonstrating value transfer systems based on messaging platforms. Facebook's Libra and Signal's token launch are also part of this trend. However, these attempts faced strong regulatory opposition or struggled due to low platform usage. In contrast, Telegram, with the world's second-largest user base, has successfully overcome various challenges, including sanctions from Russian and U.S. governments, showcasing its problem-solving capabilities. Compared to WeChat, Telegram is more likely to achieve internationalization and has already integrated a cryptocurrency payment system into its platform, an unprecedented move signaling a historic shift.

I am confident in the future of TON Blockchain. It not only possesses a unique blockchain architecture but also the largest chat software user group in the world, reaching 1.4 billion people. Telegram has been continuously optimizing the user experience over the past two years and may eventually achieve seamless integration of users with the Web3 world. As an early Bitcoin supporter with extensive cryptocurrency experience, I am committed to focusing on TON Blockchain development for the next decade, following a decade dedicated to Bitcoin technology.

TonX supports projects building on TON, but you also build your own products. Can you introduce us to your portfolio?

TonX Studio is centered around two core business areas. Firstly, we are dedicated to in-depth research and development in the underlying technology of the TON blockchain. As pioneers in this field, we have actively invested resources over the past three years to fill the technical documentation gap in the TON ecosystem. Our goal is to remain focused on the foundational technology of the TON blockchain, tackling its most challenging issues. This commitment allows us to concentrate on the technical development of foundational APIs, creating a comfortable and efficient development environment for future developers and entrepreneurs.

Secondly, we are committed to managing and optimizing the development process of this underlying technology. By creating TonFura, a high-performance API service, we have significantly reduced the development time for new partners joining the TON ecosystem. Historically, many startups faced challenges with node issues and a lack of APIs when integrating into the TON blockchain ecosystem. Through a one-time investment and concentrated effort, TonX Studio successfully developed TonFura, eliminating the need for future developers to spend months developing basic infrastructure. This not only saves new companies at least four months of development time and associated costs but also provides an optimal development pathway, accelerating the creation of quality products.

In summary, the business strategy of TonX Studio and the innovation of TonFura play a significant role in accelerating the growth of the TON ecosystem and enhancing development efficiency.

As a group that’s been working on TON since 2021, you’ve seen the ups and downs of the TON Ecosystem over the years. What do you consider to be the most important developments of the past year?

To understand the progress of the TON blockchain in 2023, it's crucial to look back at the year 2022. That year, the TON Core team made significant adjustments to the TON ecosystem, including the restructuring and optimization of core components such as TON Proxy, TON Storage, TON Nominator, and TON Payment. These elements are key parts mentioned in the TON whitepaper. It's important to note that when the TON blockchain was proposed in 2017, tokens like ERC-20 and ERC-721 were not yet widely adopted. At that time, integrating a DNS structure into the blockchain was a foundational and challenging task, lacking modular design. In 2021, when development of the TON blockchain resumed, one of its primary tasks was to design TON token contracts. This led to the release of TEP 74 Fungible Tokens (Jettons) standard and TEP 62 NFT standard. Based on these standards, the 2017 DNS system was redesigned to incorporate the concept of NFTs and a DNS trading market was launched in 2022.

In 2023, building on the foundations of FT, NFT, and DNS infrastructure, the TON ecosystem expanded comprehensively into the realm of application development. The three key developments for 2023, in my view, were:

  • Launch of the Telegram Mini App Concept: This significantly enhanced SDK and Figma design templates, marking a substantial contribution to the entire ecosystem.
  • Refinement of Wallet Connect: This development is crucial for a closer integration of the TON blockchain with the Web 3 world, especially considering Wallet Connect's previously limited popularity.
  • Integration of Telegram with Wallet: Announced at Token 2049, this enabled all Telegram users to have direct access to a TON Wallet, marking the entry into a 1.4 billion-user market for developers and the beginning of leading all Web 2 users into the Web 3 world.

Looking ahead, the TON blockchain has the potential to become a true Super App, which could profoundly impact the entire digital ecosystem.

What are your plans for 2024? Can you tease any upcoming products or partnerships?

In 2022, the TON core team successfully established fundamental blockchain infrastructure such as Fungible Tokens (FT) and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT). Entering 2023, this foundation further expanded into the application layer, notably through the development of the Telegram Mini App integrated with TON Wallet's TON Connect feature, achieving a seamless merger of Web 2 and Web 3. Currently, the TON blockchain infrastructure faces the challenge of serving Telegram's 1.4 billion users, and the widespread application of the Telegram Mini App is expected to further boost user growth.

In anticipation of this surge in users, we recognize that the TON blockchain is still in its nascent stage. To this end, TonX Studio has implemented two main strategies:

  • Development of the TonFura API Service: We are committed to developing TonFura, a highly stable, high-frequency, and scalable API service. This service aims to become the preferred tool for developers and provide solid support to a broad user base. Our goal is to cater to all Telegram users.
  • Focus on Development in the Asian Market: The Asian market is rich with skilled developers, entrepreneurial spirits, and enthusiastic businesses. Past battles in the DeFi and GameFi sectors have shown that Asia plays an indispensable role in the Web3 world, leading the market forward. Therefore, TonX Studio will focus on converting talent and setting clear development directions in the Asian market, aiming to become the most significant promoter and accelerator of TON in Asia.

You have your finger on the pulse of the TON Ecosystem. What do you expect to be the biggest trend on TON in 2024?

The year 2024 witnessed some of the most significant advancements in the TON ecosystem, particularly in two key areas:

  • Launch of a Native Stable Coin: Since the end of 2022, the team has been exploring the feasibility of creating a native Stable Coin. Early considerations included designing an entirely new working chain to support the operation of the Stable Coin, an innovative and unique approach. However, in 2023, the focus shifted primarily to developing a smart contract version, concentrating on contract design and Sharding planning. After a year of intensive planning, design, research, and implementation, the development of the native Stable Coin is expected to be completed in 2024. The ability to use a native Stable Coin within Telegram is an eagerly anticipated milestone.
  • Innovation in Cross-Chain Bridges: Another significant development in 2024 is the major upgrade of the TON Virtual Machine (TVM). The TVM will integrate a variety of new cryptographic algorithms, including several native to Ethereum and Bitcoin. This upgrade means the TON blockchain will be able to handle signatures and verifications from different blockchains more directly, thereby enhancing the functionality of cross-chain bridges between TON and other blockchains. This not only strengthens the design of oracles but also enhances the robust development potential of Layer 2 solutions, although the need for Layer 2 might be minimal due to TON's inherent high speed.