BenAHorowitz.eth // Bored.eth // Nike.eth // QuickNode.eth
To an outsider, it looks strange.
“What the heck is .eth?” they must wonder.
As crypto-natives know, all of the names above are domains from the Ethereum Naming Service (ENS).
ENS domains are NFTs that can serve as both a web3 username and a simple way to represent a wallet. If you’ve seen them around Twitter a lot, it’s probably because 2.62M names have been minted, and over 594,000 wallets hold ENS domains.
ENS is like the blockchain version of the popular Domain Name System (DNS), which translates domain names into seemingly meaningless IP addresses. But instead of IP addresses, ENS domains are mapped to 42-character wallets.
Like a phonebook, there is an ENS Registry, which is really just a set of smart contracts. The ENS Registry contracts map domain names to ENS revolvers’ smart contracts, which then map to the Ethereum address. Like any business needs a website, any crypto-native business should consider buying an ENS domain.
Web3 businesses should be ready to jump on any advantage available; that's why top companies trust QuickNode to help build and scale their dApps and web3 masterpieces.
Over the last two years, ENS has transcended beyond crypto culture and into the mainstream. So why are influencers, individuals, and brands buying up ENS domains with their names? What value does it truly add?
Purposes for Owning ENS Domains and Subdomains
If you’ve ever tried typing in “0x382…” to send someone crypto, you know it’s a stressful experience. One wrong character and your crypto is gone forever. The simplicity of ENS domains means that anyone can send individuals and businesses much easier.
If you’re a freelancer in the crypto space, this means you’re often asked to take crypto as payment. Giving someone an ENS domain — rather than a 42-character address — ensures you will get paid correctly. From the business standpoint, this also means employers will save time and possible confusion.
Another scenario: imagine you’re a hipster clothing shop in Brooklyn. You want to allow your customers to pay using Ethereum. Which is easier? Sending ETH to a 42-character address or to HipsterClothing.ETH. Obviously, the second.
ENS domains make sending ETH as simple as sending cash via Venmo or CashApp.
Want a censorship-resistant website?
Through a process that is quite similar to changing the DNS records on GoDaddy, you can use your ENS domain as a domain for your website.
It doesn’t matter if you already have .com or .app. You can now use .eth for your website. Why’s this important? It really comes down to signaling.
The Crypto Signal
Like the bat signal, a .eth domain is a signal that you’re in crypto.
As NFTs rose beyond crypto culture, ENS domains became an easy way for brands to signify they were supportive of crypto. They didn’t need to spend millions on NFT projects or start a DAO. They could just spend $30 to register an ENS domain.
“This sounds like a waste of money,” people might say. The fact is brands already spend millions to share messages about them. This is usually just called marketing or advertising.
When a food brand advertises they have organic non-GMO products, they’re hoping you see them as natural and healthy. When a consulting agency invests in producing work-life balance seminars, they are hoping you see them as more relaxed and less cutthroat than their competitors.
Sound cynical? We all look for signals to support a company. .eth is a major signal that any crypto-natives will pick up on.
Buying an ENS Domain
Because ENS is on the blockchain, it’s completely permissionless.
Anyone can go to ENS.domains, enter the dApp, and purchase an ENS domain. It’s as easy as typing in your desired name and choosing the expiration date — much like you’d choose the term length of a domain name on GoDaddy.
Like web2 domain names, there’s a second-hand market for ENS names. You can easily buy ENS names from on OpenSea. In the last 30 days, over 6,836 ETH worth of ENS names have been traded — the 5th most out of any collection on OpenSea.
Because of their scarcity, there has been a lot of speculation around ENS domains as well. Like website domain names, popular ENS domains go for higher prices. In April, there was even a mad rush for 4-digit ENS domain names with the 4-Digit Club creating their own Discord and everything.
What else can you do with ENS names?
There are three parts of an ENS domain:
- Top-Level Domain (TLD) .eth
- Second-Level Domain (2LD)
- Third-Level Domain, aka Subdomain (3LD)
The TLD is owned by the smart contract, the 2LD is owned by you, and the 3LD is just another layer of the 2LD.
3LDs or subdomains are much like subdomains for websites. Say your 2LD is QuickNode.eth. A subdomain would be something like name.QuickNode.eth.
The cool thing about subdomains is that the owner of the 2LD can give somebody else the subdomain. So, for the example above, QuickNode could give ownership of name.QuickNode.eth.
There are a bunch of use cases here. If a DAO wanted to give their contributors subdomains, they could do something like name.DAO.eth. If parents wanted to give all their kids subdomains, they could do something like firstname.lastname.eth. Subdomains are great for both sending crypto and signaling you’re part of something bigger than yourself.
Another huge use case is for crypto-native individuals to use subdomains for different wallets. If you have one wallet for NFTs, one wallet for your crypto, and one multisig, you can do something like nfts.name.eth, crypto.name.eth, and multisig.name.eth. This can especially come in handy when you have a hard wallet like Ledger and don’t want to risk sending ETH to the wrong address.
How ENS Domains Benefit Businesses
Businesses can use ENS domains in a number of ways — some more creative than others. For example, a business could use an ENS domain as a more user-friendly and unique way to share their Ethereum address with customers and partners. This can make it easier for customers to send payments or interact with the business' smart contracts.
ENS domains can also be used to create branded, decentralized websites that are hosted on the Ethereum blockchain. This can allow businesses to create a unique and secure online presence that is not controlled by any single entity.
Overall, ENS domains offer a number of potential benefits for businesses, including increased usability, security, and control. By using ENS domains, businesses can tap into the power of the Ethereum blockchain and create more engaging and secure experiences for their customers and partners.
If you’re not an Ethereum fan, then I’ve got good news. There are ENS alternatives for other blockchains. Solana has .sol, Tezos has .tez, and Bitcoin has .btc. You can also find a variety of other options, that are not chain-specific, on Unstoppable Domains.
All of these alternatives allow you to accept crypto like you would accept ETH on ENS. You can get a Solana username via Bonfida, a Tezos username via Tezos Domains, and a Bitcoin username via Stacks.
Good luck on your search for your holy grail of ENS names! Don’t worry too much about speculation. Like picking out a Gmail or Twitter username, find one that you can use with friends and in the business world!
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