What are blockchain domains?
Blockchain domains are based on an alternative name resolution system. While they’re not yet ready for mass use, the development of blockchain domains promises interesting advantages. First and foremost: With blockchain domains, you can purchase a domain instead of renting it.
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How do blockchain domains work?
When a domain is entered in a browser, the Domain Name System (DNS) ensures that the desired website is accessed. For this purpose, the ICANN registry centrally manages all domain names. For each registered domain, the IP address of the corresponding web server is available. If we enter the URL, the DNS searches for the matching IP address and displays the site.
Blockchain domains, on the other hand, work in a decentralized way. So, there is no single place where the whole system converges as with DNS. Blockchain technology is already being used in cryptocurrencies to store every transaction in the ledger. This ledger – essentially a long list of data – is not just on one server, but is distributed from different places. This means that users can track the different transactions, even in the long term, which renders the system tamper-proof.
Blockchain domains follow the same idea. The ownership of the domain is stored in the blockchain. Instead of calling up a central database when a website is visited, the browser can search the ledger to see which services are associated with the domain. So blockchain domains are actually Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which is why the new technology is also called NFT domains.
What surrounds blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies, i.e., the decentralized Internet, is now abbreviated to Web3. The name is a continuation of Web 2.0, which describes the evolution from the classic Internet to social media and eCommerce.
Advantages of a blockchain domain
A traditional website domain is rented from a registrar. For the time of the rent duration – usually one year – the registrar registers the domain in your name with ICANN. To continue using the domain, you need to pay an annual fee. Otherwise, the domain is released to the public again. Blockchain domains, on the other hand, are not leased, but purchased. The purchase is entered into the ledger and the owner remains in possession of the domain until they decide to sell it.
Since the entire blockchain system is decentralized, no single organization (such as ICANN or registrars) has control over a domain once it has been sold. Only an owner can make changes. And that’s why a domain cannot be blocked, for example. Websites with blockchain domains also exist on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) – a decentralized alternative to the World Wide Web. Since the website is not provided by a single server, but is in turn located in the blockchain, it cannot be blocked or censored.
Use of blockchain domains
Blockchain domains provide some of the same possibilities as classic domain names, but they go even further.
- Website: As with traditional domains, you can make your website available via the blockchain domain. Websites are decentralized and are hosted via the blockchain.
- Wallet: The domain is a great option to replace otherwise bulky personal crypto wallet addresses. Different addresses for different marketplaces can be bundled under one address.
- Trading: Classic domains are traded. However, since blockchain domains are in principle NFTs, they are predestined for trading. Due to the system of smart contracts, the process of buying and selling is simple and secure.
- Apps: Software can be built on domains. Development platforms and frameworks are available that are specifically designed for blockchain apps.
So far, blockchain domains and the corresponding websites aren’t widely used which is due, in part, to the fact that not every Internet user can access the domains directly, because browsers must be able to support the technology. Opera does this out of the box; for Chrome and Firefox, however, you need to install add-ons.
Nevertheless, a few businesses have already begun to secure their blockchain domains. The Budweiser brewery, for example, purchased beer.eth. It is likely that Web3 and thus blockchain domains will become more popular over time and it may make sense to buy a suitable domain now while they’re still available at a reasonable price.
Register blockchain domains
At present, the range of marketplaces for blockchain domains is still limited. Unstoppable Domains is one of the few established providers. Ethereum Name Service (ENS) or Trust Domains are alternatives. Domains purchased from Unstoppable Domains are written to the Ethereum blockchain. This means you also need a wallet including Ether. If you don’t yet have a crypto wallet, you will need to create one first. Purchasing Ether is required to set up and manage the domain.
To register a blockchain domain via Unstoppable Domains, enter your desired domain name and check if it is still available. Prices tend to vary greatly depending on the domain name you choose. While short names (first names, for example) are traded for up to $10,000, longer and less popular domains can be purchased for as little as $20. Via Unstoppable Domains you can choose from the following domain extensions:
Different platforms offer different domain endings. At ENS, for example, only the extension .eth is available. Trust Domains offers .defi for Etherium and .cfx, .bnb as well as .heco. It cannot be ruled out that further domain endings will be made available gradually.
Once you’ve decided on a domain, you only need to purchase it once. The checkout secures the domain as yours. There are no additional annual rental fees. Unstoppable Domain accepts credit card, PayPal, or cryptocurrency payments.
However, before you can use the domain, it must be transferred to the blockchain for a fee paid to the blockchain operator – just like with other NFTs – a so-called gas fee (in the sense of gasoline costs). This is due whenever something is made in the blockchain. Via Unstoppable Domains, the initial fee for registering the domain in the blockchain is currently not due.
You can use the domain via Unstoppable Domains. Link the domain to your wallet and upload a website or software. The platform can also be used to find other websites in IPFS. Classic search engines like Google are not yet designed to be used for this.
For long-term success online, you should consider blockchain domains. It may also make sense to secure your desired domains, either for your own use or resale. Because blockchain domains are still a niche product, classic domains are indispensable for your web presence. If you register a domain with IONOS, you will also receive an SSL certificate and an email inbox.