The internet has been around for decades now. It all started with Web1, the era where small groups of software developers and content creators would create websites where users could find and access information.
It was a decentralised ecosystem if we compare it to Web2, an era in which user-generated content (UGC), interactions, contributors, and publicity make up for today’s internet.
Why Are Web3 or Blockchain Domains Necessary?
Unfortunately, Web2 is under the hands of heavily-centralised operating systems from corporations that don’t really care about the end-user experience but rather generate profits.
One problem in today’s internet is that Domain Name Services (DNS), the names that represent websites, are overseen by centralised corporations such as the ICANN, and registrars such as GoDaddy are hosted on centralised servers. Users aren’t buying a domain name as such —the registrar acts as a custodian that gives the user access to a said domain and can take it down whenever it wants.
This is where blockchain comes to play, with the capacity to overhaul the internet: Web3 domains (also called NFT, crypto, and blockchain domains) are decentralised —they escape from the hands of institutions, corporations, and individuals trying to censor, suspend or hijack your website domain.
Best Web3 and Crypto Domain Name Registries in 2022
There are several blockchain domain names systems that are working to bring Web2 into Web3. Here we compile the top Blockchain DNS in the industry in 2022:
1. Freename.io – Custom Web3 TLDs and Domains
Freename.io is the Web3 TLDs and Domains platform allowing users to create blockchain domains with personalised TLDs (such as .cool, .? or .lambo.) without paying renewal fees or hidden costs.
The company is based in Switzerland and the platform supports multiple blockchain networks starting with Aurora, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Cronos, and Polygon, with support for other ecosystems coming in the near future, including Avalanche, Ethereum, and Solana. Furthermore, Freename has its own library to help Web3 developers to easily support multiple Web3 Domain Providers. This library standardises interfaces for interaction enabling to resolve and manage these supported providers: Freename, Unstoppable Domains and ENS.
Freename allows users to have complete control and ownership of their acquired Web3 TLDs. What’s more, by creating and registering a new TLD, users receive royalties, which are exclusive contracts that generate a passive income for each Web3 domain that is subsequently registered using that TLD.
One of the latest sales on Freename is the .nfts TLD for more than $3,000.
Another noteworthy aspect of Freename is that it allows users to trademark their crypto TLDs and logos and protect them legally worldwide. To deposit a trademark request, users must go through a Know Your Customer (KYC) process, submit the list of TLDs they want to trademark, and the service payment proof.
Trademarked Web3 TLDs are protected globally for six months. Once the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual property (IGE.ch) accepts and registers the TLD, users can decide on which countries they want to protect their TLDs.
2. Unstoppable Domains – the market leader
Unstoppable Domains is a San Francisco-based company that connects Web2 clients to Web3 by allowing users to create a blockchain-based wallet address similar to a URL. These domains are built on Ethereum or Zilliqa, ending in .crypto, and .zil, among other options as extensions for web browsers.
The platform essentially turns crypto wallet addresses into a simpler, human-readable name that can be used as a universal username, send and receive cryptocurrency, and access the decentralised web. Users can also display their NFT avatars on the web and verify their social accounts.
Unstoppable Domains is compatible with nearly 300 coins and tokens and has registered over 2.6 million domains. One of the perks of Unstoppable Domains is that users fully own their crypto domain once bought —no renewal, hosting, or gas fees are charged.
3. Ethereum Name Service (.eth) – the traditional service
Ethereum Name Service (ENS) has gained tremendous popularity in recent years. It’s the largest blockchain naming standard, with over 2.17 million names registered and integrated on over 500 DApps.
The platform is a naming service that hierarchically distributes domain names, which can be identified by the TLD “.eth” or “.test.” Users can also create namehashes while preserving the properties of their domains. ENS turns human-readable names into machine-readable names; Bob.eth is the username, while the machine will identify Bob.eth by its Ethereum address.
Take foundation.eth as another example. Users can interact with this address by using the foundation.eth username without using the standard address, which is “0xde0B295669a9FD93d5F28D9Ec85E40f4cb697BAe.” This makes it easier for regular users to interact with addresses while minimising errors.
The two main components of ENS are “Registrars,” which are smart contracts that own, create and modify the user’s top domains and subdomains, and “Resolvers,” which are in charge of identifying and translating the username into the standard ETH address.
Further, ENS allows users to create decentralised websites and upload them to the Interplanetary File System (IPFS), a global storage protocol network that allows computers worldwide to store and share data in a peer-to-peer manner. ENS also supports most existing DNS (Domain Name System) names, such as .com, .org, .io, .app, and more.
4. Bonfida – Solana Name Service
Solana users can create their .sol username by connecting their SOL wallet, such as Phantom, to Bonfida’s Naming service and buying a domain with SOL or USDC. Users can also associate their Twitter handles with Solana addresses and send and receive payments.
Like other domains, SNS allows users to transact crypto and interact with different .sol usernames directly instead of standard addresses. Further, users can sell their domains or tokenize and sell them as NFTs in some of Solana’s most popular marketplaces, all in a peer-to-peer fashion.
PeerName is a registrar of domain names that acts as a plugin for Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. It offers a web-based interface that’s easy to manage and set up without the hurdles of knowing cryptographic and Linux knowledge.
The platform is built around XNR, Emercoin, and NameCoin, allowing users to buy domains ending in .bit, .emc .and .onion by Tor using several payment methods, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and ripple.
PeerName is non-custodial; users can transfer domains for free to their private wallets. Moreover, PeerName offers the next year of registration for free with each subsequent registration. All domains are stored in cold storage —devices kept outside the online world, minimising the risk of cyber-attacks
6. Namecoin’s Dot-Bit
Namecoin is an open-source platform that aims to improve the privacy, security, and quality of current software technologies, including DNS and digital identities. It was the first blockchain domain registry site as well.
Namecoin was the first fork of Bitcoin and one of the early altcoins in the market, and also the first solution to the long-standing problem proposed by Zooko’s Triangle, a trilemma consisting of three parts: how to create a naming system that’s simultaneously secure, decentralised and human meaningful..
Namecoin offers Dot-Bit, a censorship-resistant domain registry that allows users to access other websites using the .bit top-level domains or Tor .onion domains and transact Namecoin’s NMC cryptocurrency.
Further, Namecoin allows users to create domain names ending in .bit instead of .com. Namecoin’s core mission is to fully decentralise the web using Bitcoin technology to prevent governments, institutions, and corporations from censoring and hijacking domains.
Blockstack offers a combination of Public Key Infrastructure with DNS to allow users to create decentralised websites that are wholly owned and managed by the owner.
Blockstack Web3 domains are built on the Bitcoin blockchain, eliminating the risk of DoS attacks, corporate censorship, and hacking. Since users have control of their domains’ private keys, they can authorise transactions or sell their domains to other users.
The Blockstack Explorer is similar to other blockchain explorers, allowing users to check recent activity from Blokckstack’s domain names and their respective information, such as associate addresses, transaction history, names registered within a particular Bitcoin block, and more.
Quik is a marketplace offering NFT domains and subdomains. Once minted, users pay zero renewal fees. The platform is available on PC, iOs, and Android devices and supports IPFS to allow users to send and receive files on the network.
Thanks to its decentralised domains, Quik users have complete control of their sites to use it on the Web3, transfer them to their private wallets, or sell them within the platform or on marketplaces like OpenSea.
There are at least 10 NFT domain TLDs available on Quik, ending in .metaverse, .vr, .chain, .address, .io, .bored, .doge, .shib, .btc, .web3, and more. These can be bought only via cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, BNB, and QUIK. However, these domains are not compatible with traditional DNS systems. They only hold value within the Web3 ecosystem.
Emercoin is a blockchain-based decentralised platform that uses a mix of two consensus algorithms, proof of ownership and proof of work, which allows it to sustain its products and services, such as a tool stack with user-friendly dSDKs (Decentralised Software Development Kits). This allows developers to build blockchain and software solutions for multiple use cases, including domain names.
Emercoin’s DNS is called EmerDNS, which creates censorship-resistant domain names that cannot be revoked nor altered by any centralised institution or authority. Users have control of their private keys and the associated payment addresses.
EmerDNS’ domains come with a variety of features:
- Full access to different domain zones instead of one
- Fully customizable domain records
- Ability to create subdomains
- Rent DNS records with customised rental periods
10. NEM Blockchain DNS
NEM (New Economic Movement) DNS is a chrome extension that allows users to search websites with .nem extensions on the NEM blockchain. It’s fully decentralised, censorship-resistant, and easy to install —no extra software needed. Users can also update domain records at any time.
Handshake is a decentralised and permissionless naming protocol seeking to bring a new era of decentralisation to the web by providing an alternative to corporate-managed domain names such as .com.
Handshake allows users to create fully owned and censorship-resistant domain names and digital identities. Being a community-driven platform, network participants are in charge of validating DNS zones, making Handshake a reliable and secure system.
Handshake runs its own blockchain, powered by the Handshake coin (HNS). The HNS coin is the mechanism in which users can transfer, register and update Web3 domain names. Moreover, the Handshake community can commence auctions in which members will place bids to buy top-level domain registries using HNS.
12. Blockchain DNS for Firefox and Chrome
Blockchain DNS Firefox and Chrome extensions allow users to access Web3 domain names such as Emercoin, Namecoin, and others. The process is straightforward; users need to download the extension, and it will automatically add an icon on the respective browser’s extension bar.
Blockchain DNS is a solid alternative for the typical centralised DNS servers. While the previously mentioned domains are limited, they provide a higher level of security and privacy.
Closing Words – The Future of Web3 Name Registries
Web3 is expected to become the next iteration for the internet and domain names will play an important part of that transition, all thanks to the magic of blockchain technology. While blockchain domains are barely positioning themselves on the web, the outlook is quite promising, and the groundwork is being laid out to improve upon existing flaws.
Together with the metaverse, cryptocurrencies, NFTs and GameFi, domain names will help accelerate the transition from Web2 to Web3.