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Are long, cumbersome cryptocurrency addresses holding the industry back from wider adoption?
The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) thinks it might—and it’s taken another step on its mission to eventually make them obsolete.
Over the weekend, the Ethereum Name Service launched an auction for short .eth domain names on the OpenSea decentralized marketplace. All three to six-character-long domain names that were not among the 194 approved during the reservation period that closed in mid-August are now up for grabs, and can be bid upon using ETH cryptocurrency.
The idea, if it catches on, is to help facilitate greater consumer adoption by enabling the use of easily recognizable names—such as “satoshi.eth” (currently going for 1,500 ETH at auction)—to receive tokens and perform transactions on the Ethereum blockchain.
ENS is an open naming system that aims to make using blockchain simpler by implementing these more memorable, human-readable names as opposed to the robotic, 42-character-long crypto addresses. These domains are built on smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain instead of the old-fashioned DNS system for managing domains, and ENS is designed to be decentralized in its infrastructure and governance.
And, according to Brantly Millegan, head of Developer Relations and Communications for ENS, the future of Ethereum-based web domains looks bright: “ENS has progressed really well, especially in the last few months,” Millegan told Decrypt. That progress, he said, includes the successful launch of the permanent registrar, instant registrations for longer .ETH names, and enabling privacy-focused Tor .onion address support.
The blockchain-based web domains offered by ENS are very similar to those being built on the Zilliqa blockchain by San Francisco-based startup Unstoppable Domains. Like those sold by Unstoppable Domains, ENS domains are also censorship resistant, which means they can’t be seized by governments the same way traditional DNS web domains can.
It’s worth noting, however, that a blockchain domain could still be placed on a restricted address list similar to what has happened to accounts linked to terrorism or international drug trafficking. People could still send tokens to these addresses but would get in serious legal trouble if caught doing so.
Nevertheless, both Unstoppable Domains and the Ethereum Name Service share the mission of broader crypto adoption through simpler wallet addresses. Some of the applications and wallets that have already integrated ENS technology include MetaMask, MyEtherWallet, Opera browser, Bitfinex exchange, and Etherscan.
According to Millegan, the ENS auction for short .eth domains will run for approximately four to six weeks. After that, the company plans to add support for wallet addresses of other cryptocurrencies beyond just Ethereum.