Blockchain has spawned dozens of cryptocurrencies, but there is more to it than that. Blockchain is a technology in the first place, and it can be used beyond cryptocurrency. So, a new wave of hype is coming — blockchain domains. What is so special about them?
As the Internet evolves, traditional domains are becoming ineffective. Although blockchain domains are not fully developed yet, the whole web community is already talking about them.
Just like cryptocurrencies, blockchain domains represent a new class of assets that belong to the owner, and not to a third party or central authority. The owner has a private key to their domain, so the domain will be entirely under their control.
Simply put, a blockchain domain is a collection of complex smart contracts that make it operational. For example, the Ethereum developers have created the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), which allows you to register a domain name in the .eth zone. This domain zone is decentralized. It runs on top of the Ethereum blockchain and can interoperate with other decentralized apps and resources (wallets, exchanges, storage systems, etc.).
Since such domains are not as widespread as traditional domains, few have heard of them. However, they are quite popular among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Just imagine, the “exchange.eth” domain was sold for 6,660 Ethers, which is equivalent to $1,241,424 as of today (1ETH=$186.4). foundation.eth was sold for 300 Ethers, and weather.eth — for 101 ethers.
However, if you decide to go to one of these addresses, you won't be able to find and open them within Google or from an address bar. To open these addresses, most likely you will need additional plugins and, of course, you will need to use the Ethereum network. As you can see, blockchain domains are still at their infancy. In the future, the team behind Ethereum wants to make .eth domains available to all Internet users. Ethereum is going to negotiate with ICANN on this subject.
With all the above considered, the questions arise: Why are these domains needed at all? What problems will they solve in the future?
First of all, they are more convenient to use for transactions than traditional wallet addresses. Now a traditional wallet address consists of around 35 characters, which is naturally hard to remember and very easy to confuse. For a person who wants to transfer cryptocurrency funds, it will be enough to enter a wallet-related domain name and send cryptocurrency to it directly.
The second advantage relates to content, mainly. Blockchain domains can’t be blocked or censored. Now, the registrar has the right to revoke your domain following court decisions (or even without a court decision). In the future, it could hardly be possible with blockchain-based domains. The domain is your asset. You are the sole owner of it and have complete control over it.
For example, the team behind Unstoppable Domains is developing an exclusive blockchain for domain names. The company plans to both launch new domain zones and introduce blockchain into the existing ones. New domain zones will exist outside the ICANN system, so users will need additional software to access them.
The company is also developing the Zilliqa Domain System (ZNS). The .zil domain developers strive to replace complex addresses and domains with human-readable names. They also want to create the domains for sites that could be resistant to censorship. Unstoppable Domains is also going to register a .crypto domain zone once ICANN launches new top-level domain zone registration. In the future, they want to use such domains to create cryptocurrency-related websites and
facilitate the exchange of coins.
Alibaba, a Chinese retailer, is planning to introduce a domain name management system on top of its own blockchain. According to the creators, this system will register a unified domain name (UBCDN) within the blockchain for convenient data management. The identifier in such a network will have a readable name that allows you to remember the domain. Alibaba is going to implement it in its own intellectual property system to facilitate the process of filing complaints on rights
ICANN was created 20 years ago, making it possible to build new business models and business roles. With the modern blockchain-based alternatives to DNS, these roles are not clearly defined yet. Today, we are on the verge of new blockchain capabilities. The new domain names will solve many existing problems: from content management to private domain ownership. So, let's wait and see what else blockchain developers can come up with.