The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is already the most widely adopted NFT in Web3.
At the time of writing there are almost 2M registered ENS domains and more than 0.5M unique participants. Major wallets and applications support ENS payments. Etherscan, the most popular blockchain explorer, resolves and displays crypto addresses as ENS domains. Day by day ENS is cementing its role in Web3. But what’s the potential of ENS really? What is ENS to you?
ENS is Your Web3 Username
Sounds like not much in itself, but there are big implications for truly owning your username. Most of us know the struggle of finding a great available username on any popular social media platform. Individuals can often just choose an alternative, but as a content creator or brand — the name is everything. For content creators to own a unified username across all platforms is truly a dream come true. In Web3 that becomes a reality.
The concept of user profile is what differs a lot between Web2 & Web3 platforms (applications). In Web2 the user profile is owned by the platform, but not you. In Web3 it’s rather like connecting your wallet (which you own!) to decentralized platforms / applications (dApps). Wallet can be tied to an ENS domain which can store your avatar, email, website, bio, socials etc. That’s essentially a user profile that’s 1) owned by you rather than any specific dApp and 2) can be used across all dApps! “Sign in with Google” is basically a cross-platform user profile, but without username rights and true ownership.
ENS Subdomains/ Name Wrapper
So does everybody need to register their own ENS domain? No, not really. This is where subdomains come into play. Subdomains are essentially extensions of your “domain.eth” such as “subdomain.domain.eth”. It’s already possible to make and use subdomains, but they are not independent from the parent domain. With upcoming upgrades it will be possible to sell subdomains as independent NFTs and even customize some of their functionality.
Name wrapper will allow to “burn fuses” or limit the power of the parent domain. Essentially that allows for subdomains to become somewhat or completely ownable by another person. Possibility for anyone to own and trade a subdomain opens up A LOT:
- Platforms can easily use subdomain infrastructure for usernames.
- Businesses can use subdomains for payments and accounting
- Artists can issue subdomains as artwork, tokens for fans & contributors
- Merchants can issue subdomains as tickets, access tokens, proof of authenticity etc.
- Brands can even sell their subdomains (john.gucci.eth)
Technical innovations of “Name Wrapper” allows easily using subdomains as in-platform usernames. Decentraland is already using subdomains as tradable in-game usernames (jane.dcl.eth for example). Decentraland had to make its own custom contract, but after “Name Wrapper” comes out it will be easy for anyone.
By supporting ENS, platforms are taking advantage of already fully built & tested blockchain naming service. In addition ENS domains can be used for payments, website hosting, chatting (Blockscan Chat) and much more.
There has always been a market for usernames in any popular platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Most platforms are against username trading, but that only makes the market illegitimate and attracts a lot of scammers. Platforms could embrace ENS and encourage safe username trading on their own marketplace.
Besides using ENS as usernames, financial services can utilize payment infrastructure and issue subdomains for their clients. On February 18, 2022 crypto exchange CoinJar bought “coinjar.eth” for $25,000 with this vision in mind.
ENS + IPFS dWebsites
There is one more thing worth mentioning besides subdomains. ENS domains can host websites using the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). IPFS is a relatively new protocol created by Juan Benet in 2015. It works similarly as torrents and is more resilient, secure and efficient than Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) we are all familiar with. HTTP requests data using IP address (location of data) while IPFS requests data by content hash (content of data). Requesting content itself rather than location of data makes it impossible for hackers to maliciously change the data or point to a fake server.
You can host websites on IPFS completely for free and then link them to ENS domains. Linking IPFS websites with ENS domains allows them to be easily searchable and shareable. Decentralized file sharing (IPFS) together with decentralized naming service (ENS) provides foundation for secure and tamper-proof internet.
At the end of the day, adoption matters the most. Already ENS is the unquestionable leader of crypto domain space by any metric. There are many technical benefits for individuals and businesses to adopt ENS (usernames, user profiles, payments, websites). With upcoming improvements to subdomains, there are many new possibilities presenting themselves. ENS domains could be on the road to become as significant in Web3 as “.com” domains are in Web2.
I’m 448.eth. This is my second article. I buy & sell domains and tweet about ENS daily. Make sure to follow me to stay up to date and learn more about ENS 🙂
Twitter — @448_eth