One of the largest obstacles to the widespread adoption of blockchain is the confusion it entails. For example, each crypto wallet has a unique public address. On Ethereum, these are 42 characters long, made up of numbers 0-9 and letters a-f. Public addresses are meant to be your 'home' on the blockchain, where you can receive and send cryptocurrency, as well as confirm ownership of assets for interaction with smart contracts and decentralized applications. The public address is like a user's bank account and passport, all in one, so it's very important to get it right. And yet, these strings of characters look a lot like gibberish to most people and mistaking even one character can mean the loss of assets forever.
Companies like Unstoppable Domains (UD) and the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) are working to ease that confusion through the use of more memorable naming systems for public addresses. With a domain name, your public address “0x3d2a6B23E2d22ba6D10bcCA44BE2dCA110BBcedA” becomes, for example, “MyEtherDomain.crypto”, making it much easier and safer to manage, send to friends, and receive payments. Each domain can direct assets to multiple public addresses on different blockchains, so you can have a single email-like destination for all crypto assets.
Out with the Old, In with the New
Domain names are not new to blockchain technology, yet a surprising amount of crypto enthusiasts aren’t using them. Drawing from conversations in online communities and requests for support, it’s apparent that too many people seem content with their copy and paste methods. Even users who have lost assets from a single mistyped character of their public address, from accidentally copying the wrong address, or from having their clipboard hijacked by malware, don't seem to be aware that other options are available.
For those that are ready to take their blockchain interaction to the next level, the choices of domain type are expanding. It all started with ENS providing the '_____.eth' domain. Now, options are more plentiful, with just Unstoppable Domains offering ten domain names (at time of writing), including '.crypto', '.coin', '.nft', '.blockchain', and '.wallet'. While the differences between domain types are mainly about the registration process and personal preference, it's nice to have more choice to express one's individuality. Most domains are blockchain-agnostic, meaning you can use the same domain as an address for Ether, tokens, Bitcoin, and dozens of other currencies.
Moving Towards a Decentralized Web
You may have heard that internet adoption was significantly encouraged by the introduction of email, making the benefits of the world wide web more tangible and accessible to everyone. Blockchain domains have the potential of doing the same for crypto adoption. Not only do they make sending crypto easy and foolproof, they can also be used to point towards a website that’s hosted on the blockchain, just like a '.com' domain.
The big difference is that most website domains on the internet can be taken down rather quickly by centralized third parties. The blockchain, on the other hand, is immutable and permanent, so domains built on Ethereum are forever. The only person who can change a crypto domain's ownership or content is the one who holds the access keys to the wallet associated with it. This keeps crypto domains decentralized and uncensorable, rather than vulnerable to a central power that gets the final say.
Although the technology for storing content through these domains isn’t user friendly just yet, companies like Unstoppable Domains are already offering an easy decentralized blog setup, and developers in the Ethereum community are always working on making decentralization more approachable. Users can help them in this endeavor by getting blockchain domains for themselves and spreading awareness about blockchain domain benefits. If each of us makes our corner of the crypto space more secure by embracing best practices, the entire ecosystem can flourish and encourage new users to test the waters!