When people say “now is the time to do something about” one or the other pressing topic, they know that few will get around to actually doing something. The first day of January is the time to buy a gym membership! A national lockdown is the time to learn a new language! Friday morning is the time to stop procrastinating and file that big presentation! Easier said than done, right?
Stay with me, though, because when I say that blockchain domains will eventually replace not only website addresses, but also bank accounts, emails, logins, and so much more, I mean it. Which means the clock is ticking, and the race to future-proof yourself and your brand is officially on.
Before we get into it, though, let’s look at what blockchain domains are and why everyone is scrambling to secure one. Designed to be entirely transparent, uncensorable, secure, and free from regulations as well as government oversight, they are domains that live on the blockchain instead of the more traditional Domain Name System (DNS), the original ‘phone book’ of the internet. So, if a DNS server automatically knows to match a certain IP address to the eWeek UK website, a blockchain domain will match your chosen human-read name to your crypto wallet.
They can also be used as unique Web3 identities, which is to say as single logins on a variety of devices and websites, or to deal blockchain-based assets like cryptocurrencies and NFTs. They themselves essentially function as NFTs, and can be sold or transferred directly on the blockchain in the same way.
They differ from top level domains in that they allow ‘subdomains’ to exist and be rented out from the main ID, which presents countless use cases: whoever owns john.ccd could rent out subdomain.john.ccd to all the other Johns of the world; the UN could own refugee.ccd and have a separate subdomain for each country they operate in, through which people could send money directly in the case of a fundraiser or emergency appeal; Nike appears to have purchased dotswoosh.eth, after their iconic swoosh logo, and might be considering having different subdomains for every NFT collection they subsequently release, or perhaps rent out subdomains to superfans. The possibilities are truly almost endless.
Blockchain domains also crucially differ from top level domains by virtue of their decentralised nature, which makes them a core element of the vision for a Web3 future and a key tool in the fight for users to have more control over their information and online activity.
And while the very first case of a blockchain domain goes back to 2011, it wasn’t until recently that people started paying attention.
Unstoppable Domains, the GoDaddy of Web3, if you will, has registered over 1.4 million domain names to date, including several for Fortune 1000 companies. Paradigm.eth, a domain on the Ethereum Name Service, was bought for 420 ETH (around $1.5 million / £1.2 million) last year in the largest blockchain domain sale in history. This month alone, the service saw a record 378,000 new .eth registrations in July alone. For contrast: in April, monthly sales were just 46,261, and .com registrations for the whole of 2021 were a mere 126,770.
One thing is clear: mass adoption may still be far, but preparedness is still, always, key.
As more and more domains get snapped up every day, brands will increasingly struggle to purchase their chosen Web3 space and identity, which could damage both their name and prevent them from entering the space of the future. It’s vitally important to act fast and smart, in order to protect your own name and your company identity.
For brands approaching their Web3 future, getting in early is critical, and will only become more so as time goes on. The case is similar for individuals who do not wish to eventually be shut out of activities, sales, and transfers happening on the blockchain – or potentially, as the promise of Web3 grows, even virtual worlds like the Metaverse.
Sure, a world in which a single name service sees 378,000 registrations a month cannot be considered an untapped market anymore. But what’s the alternative? Letting the hype and cost of blockchain domains skyrocket a little more, until all that’s left is the Web3 equivalent of a John297415 Twitter handle? Seriously, good luck with that.
By Lars Seier Christensen, Chairman of the Concordium Foundation and Founder of Saxo Bank.