Web3 domain name services such as the Ethereum Name Service ("ENS"), the leading decentralized domain name registry service, have become ubiquitous in crypto news feeds.
DNS (Domain Name System) make the internet easier to use, allowing users to simply remember a human-readable name rather than an IP address. With BNS (Blockchain naming systems such as ENS), users have more functionality than with DNS, as well as full control over their private keys. Data is securely stored and cannot be tampered with, or deleted.
The Ethereum Name Service is a distributed, open and extensible naming system that interacts with the Ethereum blockchain. Nick Johnson and Alex Van de Sande of the Ethereum Foundation led the initial development of the ENS DAO, where the governance token is ENS.
In November 2021, ENS launched with a very successful airdrop: ENS tokens were sent to users of the service (ETH holders, ENS contributors...) and established a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to manage it. ENS token-holders use their assets as company shareholders would. Note that ENS is not a company but an open-source project.
How do ENS domains work?
ENS domains enable users to register domains issued on the Ethereum blockchain. Similar to the role of the DNS mentioned above, the role of the ENS is to map human-readable names such as "john.eth" to a machine-readable name such as an Ethereum address, content hashes, metadata, and other cryptocurrency addresses.
These domains are programmable and interact with other Ethereum-based dApps. Since they use the ERC-721 token standard, ENS domains can also be traded as NFTs. ENS is composed of two Ethereum smart contracts: the ENS registry, which records domain names, and the Resolver, which translates domain names to machine-readable addresses and vice-versa. ENS also allow users to launch censorship-resistant decentralised websites and to upload their website to IPFS and access it with their ENS name.
To register an ENS domain, go to ens.domains and search the name you'd like to purchase. You will need an ETH-compatible wallet such as Metamask or Coinbase Wallet. ENS tokens are also tradable for USD and other cryptocurrencies on crypto exchanges such as Binance. To date, over 2.6 million total ENS names have been created.
Other assets that have a similar market cap to Ethereum Name Service include IoTeX, Gnosis, Terra, and many others.
What are other BNS domains?
Other Blockchain naming systems (BNS) include .btc domains, which are the Stacks blockchain's decentralized web identity and human-readable wallet address system.
The domains are registered through a smart contract on Stacks, secured by Bitcoin. Given Stacks' unique connection to Bitcoin, registering .btc names automatically generates a pair of corresponding Bitcoin and Stacks addresses and ownership of every .btc name is represented in a hash of the Bitcoin blockchain. Stacks is uniquely positioned to enable Bitcoin DeFi and help grow the web3 ecosystem. The BTC.us web bridge also allows users to generate subdomains for their personal use.
On Gamma, Stacks' leading NFT marketplace, you can use your blockchain domain (.btc name) to transfer NFTs to someone by typing in their .btc name instead of the longer alphanumeric wallet address, or you can use it to view your profile and NFTs on Gamma (or someone else's). Your BNS name is automatically reserved as your unique profile address, like gamma.io/example.btc.
For more information on selling, buying and transferring .btc domains, head over to this article.