Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, has gained widespread adoption and has become a mainstream asset class.
However, sending and receiving Bitcoin can be a daunting task for many people, especially for those who are new to the world of cryptocurrencies. One of the major pain points for users is the long and complicated wallet addresses that Bitcoin uses. This is where the Bitcoin Naming Service (BNS) comes into play.
BNS — short for Bitcoin Naming Service — converts your Bitcoin wallet address from a long string of random letters and numbers to a readable URL with a fun suffix, often .BTC. This is exactly what ENS does but on the Bitcoin network, rather than the Ethereum network.
How Does Bitcoin Naming Service Work?
Due to the high costs and scalability restrictions of working directly on the Bitcoin network, the protocol was built on a Layer 2 solution called Stacks — which brings smart contracts to the Bitcoin network.
Through a smart contract on Stacks, you can register your .BTC domain. Ownership of every .BTC name is represented in a hash of the Bitcoin blockchain. However, instead of spamming the Bitcoin blockchain with name registrations, thousands of Stacks transactions settle in a single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Currently, limited Bitcoin wallets support sending transactions to BNS addresses but Hiro and Xverse are confirmed to support the service, at the time of writing this article.
It's a big day for BNS! You can now send Bitcoin (#BTC) to BNS names with Hiro Wallet (v4.5.0) 🏷️ 📤 🚀
We've also rolled out initial support for BNSx, which provides an elegant way to manage multiple BNS names per account.
🧵 Let's dive into it all… pic.twitter.com/zgbGrJrWGA
— Hiro Wallet for Ordinals, Bitcoin & Stacks (@hirowallet) March 6, 2023
You can also register domains with different suffixes — other than .BTC — such as .id, .mining, and more. Each of these suffixes holds different expiration dates:
- .btc = 5 years
- .id = 1 year
- .graphite = 1 year
- .app = no expiration
- .stx = no expiration
- .stacks = no expiration
- .mining = no expiration
- .miner = no expiration
- .blockstack = no expiration
- .helloworld = no expiration
- .podcast = no expiration
- .stacking = no expiration
- .Ryder handles (fren, bitcoinmonkey, etc.) = 1 year
It is important to note that BNS names are registered on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no process to claim a name that has been taken even if it has infringed on your copyright. The only way to get your hands on a taken domain name is by purchasing it on the secondary market or waiting for it to expire.
How Do I Register a BNS Domain?
To register BNS Domain, head over to their site btc.us, and click ‘sign in’ in the top right corner. When selecting what Bitcoin wallet to sign in with it’s important to select an address that doesn’t already have BNS address — you can only have one decentralized identity per account. If signed in correctly, the sign-in button should now be replaced with an “account” button.
Next search for the name you’d like to register, if available you’ll be shown how much this domain will cost. Once you click “get it” you’ll be given an overview of your order with the option to pay with Stacks, US Dollars, or Bitcoin.
Once you have passed this stage you’ll have to enable the purchase through two transactions: preorder and register. Click send and confirm both transactions one after another.
Now click account on the top right to confirm it’s been added to your wallet address.
Alternatively, you could register via bnsregister.com or handles.ryder.id which will follow a similar process but enable you to register using different suffixes including .stx, .podcast, and .bitcoinmonkey.
What if My Username is Taken?
Just like ENS, you can purchase domains on a secondary marketplace. However, instead of OpenSea, the marketplace is Gamma.io.
The highest sale on this marketplace was Loan.btc for 25,000 STX, which was ~$7,390 at the time.
The BNS community has started to create clubs as well with the familiar 999 Club, 10k Club, and 3 letter clubs all gaining traction. BNS names do not have to be a minimum of three characters so there has even been the emergence of a 1 character club and 99 club.
Is BNS a DAO?
Despite their BNS DAO Twitter oraz BNS DAO Discord being called BNS DAO, it’s not actually a real DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).
Instead, any changes to BNS follow the SIP — Stacks Improvement Proposal — the voting system created by the Stacks network.
“The SIP process is a lengthy one, like BIPs on Bitcoin for example,” nicksainato.btc on Twitter, co-founder of Gamma, told Web3Domains.com. “First, people discuss and contribute ideas on an online forum. They talk about what’s needed and try to agree on a plan. Only when everyone seems to agree, they make it official by ratifying it.”
What Tools Can I Use?
Now that you know what BNS is and how it can simplify the process of sending and receiving Bitcoin, you may be wondering how to use it. While ENS has a user-friendly marketplace in the form of ENS Vision, BNS does not have a single, centralized tool for managing domain names.
Here are some of the tools that you can use to register, manage, and use BNS domain names.
- Search for BNS names: https://www.bnssearch.com/
- BNS expiration and renewal checker: https://www.bnsrenewal.com/
- Track BNS statistics: https://stacksonchain.com/dashboards/BNS/130
- BNS burner: https://www.bnsburner.com/
- Inscribe your .BTC name on Ordinals: https://www.bns.xyz/
Preventing scams is another reason Stacks users & applications need to adopt the BNS Verified Inscriptions Naming System➡️ https://t.co/0VaCQTB2d4
The Inscription below by BTCdomains .io shows them trying to claim hirowallet.btc
I confirmed with Hiro team that this is not them! pic.twitter.com/SmEe6ORoZP
— Ragnar Lifthrasir (@RagnarLif) March 28, 2023
Name Services Moving Forward
In conclusion, the Bitcoin Naming Service (BNS) is a powerful tool that brings the world of Web3 identity to the Stacks/Bitcoin network.
This development is an interesting step for Bitcoin, making it more accessible to newcomers who may have been intimidated by the technical nature of cryptocurrency. With BNS, users can simplify the process of sending and receiving Bitcoin by converting complicated wallet addresses into human-readable domain names. By providing an easy-to-remember domain name, BNS reduces the risk of errors and ensures that funds are sent to the correct address.
As ENS domains have become an essential part of the Ethereum ecosystem, and it is only natural that Bitcoin would follow suit, and each individual blockchain will tend to do. As more people enter the world of cryptocurrencies, the demand for user-friendly interfaces and simplified processes will continue to grow. With BNS, Bitcoin is taking a step in the direction, exposing users and systems to become more user-friendly and accessible.
As the industry continues to mature, it is exciting to see how new technologies, protocols, and tools will emerge.