One of the largest obstacles to the widespread adoption of blockchain is the confusion it entails. Each person's account on the blockchain is made up of a public address and private key – on Ethereum, these are 42 and 64 characters long, respectively. Public addresses are meant to be the door leading to your account, meaning that you can send funds to a public address or receive funds sent to your own. These strings of characters look a lot like gibberish to most people and mistaking even one character can mean the loss of your funds forever. It’s no wonder many people are still too scared or confused to get started.
Companies like Unstoppable Domains and the Ethereum Naming 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 keep track of, send to friends, and receive payments on. Each domain can direct funds to multiple public addresses as well, and some offer cross-blockchain support, so you can have a single human-readable destination for funds going to multiple accounts.
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 funds 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 started with ENS providing a “_____.eth” domain, but now there are more, such as "_____.crypto" from Unstoppable Domains, "_____.xyz", and "_____.luxe". 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
There are other uses for Ethereum domain names besides acting as a placeholder for your public address. Much like “____.com” or “____.net”, crypto domains can be used to point towards a website that’s tied to the blockchain. Currently, most website domains on the internet can be taken down rather quickly through legal processes. But the blockchain is immutable and permanent, so domains built on Ethereum are forever. The only person who can change or alter a crypto domain is the one who holds the access keys for 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 quite 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. We can help them in this endeavor by getting blockchain domains ourselves and spreading awareness about their use!