Blockchain-powered web domain services have been taking the market by storm with their blockchain domains .eth and .crypto. Investors and crypto enthusiasts invested millions of dollars in Ethereum Name Service and their .eth web addresses. At the same time Unstoppable Domains is now the most used decentralized service after its .crypto domains launched last week. These are signs of the potential blockchain domains have to offer.
Consumers could pre-order a .crypto domain for a few months, but just now Unstoppable Domains released the domains for usage. The service isn’t even live for a week and already Dapp.com registered 112 thousand transactions. Interestingly these transactions come from only 339 people, suggesting many are hoarding domains trying to make a profit.
At the same time Ethereum Name Service has made millions selling .eth domains. By having a look at the OpenSea marketplace, one could notice the amount of speculation and greed surrounding these domains. Currently domains like Amazon.eth, Google.eth and Apple.eth have been claimed by traders. At the same time others have gotten their hands on wallet.eth, porn.eth and dapp.eth. For example, games.eth can now be bought for 10 thousand ETH, which is the equivalent of 1.3 million dollars.
Advantages of blockchain domains
A blockchain-based domain is not registered by an intermediary, instead users have direct control. That means that yourdomain.eth or yourdomain.crypto is attached to a privately owned wallet. This also means that only users themselves are capable of transferring ownership. This is of course where OpenSea comes into play.
The result of this is that intermediaries or law enforcement can’t claim ownership over a domain name. This also means that governments can’t order web hosting companies to take down your content.
In addition users can tie cryptocurrency payment addresses to their blockchain domain. As a result they could not only use their website to offer services, but it immediately functions as a wallet address well. So instead of sending a payment to 0x98ee235244a99fde7aadafb0c0fc77845d9e055a, you’d be sending it to for example playtoearn.crypto.
All cryptocurrency wallets allow payments using these classic wallet addresses, which are impossible to remember. At the same time there’s an increasing number of wallet services that support .eth and .crypto.
Decentralized web hosting
A decentralized web domain sounds nice, but users also need to store their content. Currently services like WordPress and Joomla work perfect with centralized hosting services, which store all data on a centralized server. Decentralized web data storage required a whole new way of reading, writing, editing, and publishing websites.
Websites build on decentralized storage are currently by definition very complex. As a result these websites are rather static instead. A decentralized network called IPFS stores all data. Data can be found through hashes. The process of uploading a website to IPFS is not user friendly at all.
When decentralized web hosting?
Right now the ENS system only works with for .eth domains. Ethereum Name Service will soon also allow existing DNS domains to function in the same way. As long as clients of course register their domain with ENS. This would mean that .com and .net addresses will also allow for crypto payments in the future.
The biggest challenge is in the way website owners store their content. Governments force web hosting companies to close websites whenever they don’t agree with the published content. In the UK this might be porn, while in China this is anti-government propaganda. Decentralized hosting services can make it easier to circumvent this.
At the moment there are multiple companies working on decentralized storage, think about TardiGrade, Sia and Maidsafe. BitTorrent’s BTFS is also slowly becoming a major player in this field. However, data storage is not the same web hosting. Web hosting requires lots of data transfers, and it would be nice to have a proper content management system.
In January 2019 software company Automattic announced a blockchain-powered publishing tool called Newspack. This software would for example store archived content on the blockchain. This news was picked up, because Automattic is also the company behind content management software WordPress. It just shows that all decentralized web hosting would need, is a proper interface to make this work as easy as possible.
Also published on Medium.