When transacting on Ethereum, users typically interact directly with cryptographically generated addresses—long strings of alphanumeric characters that are difficult to recognize and almost impossible to remember. The Ethereum Naming Service (ENS), an open-source, community-owned, and non-profit blockchain naming system, solves those problems and can even reduce a user's fear of crypto.
Similar to the way web users replace numerical IP (Internet Protocol) addresses by registering easy-to-read domain names through the Domain Name Service (DNS), blockchain users can replace long Ethereum addresses with shorter, memorable names registered through the ENS. Imagine no longer having to copy an address from one source and paste it into another.
Registering a name using the ENS is simple and offers anyone the benefits of convenience and improved security when engaging with decentralized finance applications (dapps) and other users.
How Does the Ethereum Name Service Work?
Every address on Ethereum acts as an identifier for a blockchain account, and each one can be named and registered. Because every name is unique and owned solely by the registrant, each takes the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), a digital asset known primarily for its role in the digital art and collectibles scene. Registered names as NFTs prove authenticity and can even offer owners the benefit of profitability (more on that below).
The native suffix for ENS records on the Ethereum mainnet is “.eth (e.g., ethereum.eth). The .test suffix is available for use by developers on testnet. ENS can also be used with some DNS names owned.
Name owners can create subdomains, enabling multiple users (e.g., john.defiservices.eth and jane.defiservices.eth) and/or use cases (e.g., accounting.defiservices.eth and support.defiservices.eth) under each domain. They can also give control of a record to other users while still maintaining ownership.1https://app.ens.domains/faq#what-is-the-difference-between-the-registrant-and-controller Furthermore, publicly accessible ‘text records’ that identify specific urls, social media profiles, avatars, keywords, and more can be created. These allow users to securely store contact information that anyone can look up and that supporting Web3 services can access. Finally, if a name owner wants to change their linked address but keep the registered name, they can.
The Ethereum Naming Service, therefore, isn’t just a service for Ethereum; it’s a broader Web3 service built on Ethereum.
How and Why to Register a Name with ENS
Anyone can reserve and register a name on ENS in minutes. The cost, as of this writing, is $5 in ETH per year for 5+-character .eth names—more for scarcer three- or four-character .eth names—plus Ethereum gas fees. The fees collected from registrations are held in a community-controlled multisig account to potentially be used for future ENS ecosystem project development.2https://docs.ens.domains/permanent-registrar-faq#how-will-ens-team-manage-and-spend-the-funds-will-there-be-a-foundation-or-transparent-oversight
In the following video, the ENS’s Brantly Millegan provides a walkthrough of the name registration process:
Once a name is registered, it can be used with any wallet, dapp, or browser that has integrated the ENS standard, including Coinbase, MetaMask, and Uniswap.
The benefits of ENS registration are many:
- Clear name display. If a user chooses to enable reverse resolution (reverse lookup) in ENS settings, their registered name will be displayed instead of an Ethereum address in some dapps, including Uniswap, and certain wallet apps, including DeFiSaver smart wallet.
- Reduction of costly errors. Using names instead of cryptographic addresses can help eliminate the chance of a common misstep—sending crypto to the wrong address.
- Easy account search and review. Anyone can search Etherscan by an ENS-registered name to view the number and value of tokens held in any Ethereum account.
- Sell and stake names. Because ENS-registered names are non-fungible tokens, they can be bought and sold on NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea and Rarible, and even used as DeFi collateral on certain platforms.
Public Infrastructure for Web3
Registering a memorable name to replace a long, hard-to-remember Ethereum address can simplify the transaction experience and make accessing blockchain technology more enjoyable. With more and more DeFi services integrating ENS and similar initiatives, Web3 is becoming more user-friendly all the time.
To start exploring the DeFi world, visit www.MakerDAO.com/ecosystem.