ENS surnames potential

Time will come for (almost) everyone to have a web3 identity. This can be represented in various ways, but my feeling is that ENS surnames will be of great use in the not-so-distant future. In what follows, I explain some basics, the why, and also how to efficiently select the most popular ones available.

DNS in Web2

Computers, servers, routers and websites, they all have an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP facilitates the communication between everything that connects to the Internet.

We could access a website by typing its IP address – e.g., 104.244.29.120 –, or its chosen name – e.g., twitter.com. This is thanks to Domain Name System (DNS) as it allows websites to set a domain name that’s easier to memorize & correctly type. DNS contains all the websites that have an extension as .com, .org, .net, .io, and so and so forth.

ENS in Web3

There is still to be decided what blockchain will conquer the web3 space, but Ethereum is significantly leading the race today. There are multiple areas to be covered, and several protocols could get wins on different matters, but for the purpose of this we will stick to what we know as Ethereum Name Service (ENS).

ENS represents the DNS equivalent, but it does not map an IP to a domain name, it maps Ethereum addresses (e.g., 0xfe89cc7abb2c4183683ab71653c4cdc9b02d44b7) to human-readable names like ‘osano.eth’.

As of today, August 30, 2022, we are past 2.1 million registered ENS domains. It’s worth mentioning that it took 5 years to get to 1 million, and only 3.5 months to get to 2 million.

Use cases of ENS

Map your human-readable [name].eth to machine-readable identifiers such as Ethereum addresses.

Safer transfers due to lowering chances of a typo, as the transfer of funds is made directly to a name instead of a hexadecimal address.

Resolve your web2 website to [yourens].eth.link.

More on how to set up a decentralized website here:

By the way, accessing [yourens].eth.link you will be displayed the NFT collection [yourens] has.

Single Sign On

ENS makes an entire ecosystem of decentralized applications (dApps) to be accessible using only one account. And it does so while you keep owning your data!

Sooner or later, all the apps we use today will have a corresponding dApp. For example, we already have Mirror for Medium, or Huddle for Zoom.

Subdomains

Due to the hierarchical nature of ENS, anyone who owns a domain may configure subdomains as desired.

Considering one owns cryptoblog.eth, there could be multiple bloggers linked to this domain (jessica.cryptoblog.eth , mike.cryptoblog.eth etc.). They could all live under the same parent domain, and eventually even on some form of an app or whatever innovation we will see in the future.

At this moment, a wrapped eth. parent domain is not able to set permissions or rights to its subdomains. And that’s exactly what the ENS Name Wrapper will do when going live (soon enough). Basically, it will allow turning ENS names into separate ERC1155 NFTs, granting complete control on the subdomain to the to the subdomain’s owner.

Digital identity

An ENS domain can be filled with ETH/BTC + other wallet addresses, IPFS content hash, email, URLs, avatar, description, keywords, handles (discord, github, reddit, twitter, telegram) or ENS delegate. Plus, all your actions, contributions, early moves, or awards.

As most people will use a crypto wallet, they will have to pick an ID. Some people may want to keep their pseudonymity, but there will definitely be a lot of doxxing. Using your surname might make a lot of sense.

Today, our email address is frequently used to sign into many websites. As mentioned, the email will be integrated into a personal identifier like ENS. [Firstname].[surname] is the most popular email address format. Probably many web2 users will want to keep the format in web3.

Also, they could use it for family legacy, web3 family access, or just for individual flex. Anyway, creativity will let us know a lot more use cases sooner rather than later.

There are 500k unique ENS holders today. How many will there be in 2025? What about 2030?

One play regarding the surnames is to sell subdomains. Let’s take a surname with 100k bearers worldwide. Assuming 1% will use an ENS and 10% of those 1k (100) will want to buy their subdomain for 0.1eth => 10eth.

Another play here would be to lease subdomains. This would turn the parent domain into a passive income provider.

Now factor in what global adoption will mean for those numbers.

Cost to register an ENS domain:

  • 3 characters domain –> 0.404 eth / 1 year
  • 4 characters domain –> 0.1 eth / 1 year
  • 5+ characters domain –> 0.003 eth / 1 year

The prices above are with gas fee not included. But the gas fees are extremely low these days, and we’ve regularly seen gwei under 10. I minted when gwei was 3 (yes, 3!), meaning that 5+ characters mint equalled 0.014 ETH, roughly $22, per 4 years.

Apart from the population of one country and the number of surname bearers, I also look at the crypto adoption / ownership rate per country. You might find the top surprising. This is from Gemini’s 2022 Global State of Crypto Report.

Top 300 most used surnames (according to surnam.es) are all registered for:

  • China (1.4b population)
  • India (1.38b)
  • USA (330m)
  • Brazil (212m)
  • Mexico (130m)
  • England (56m)
  • Argentina (45m)
  • Canada (38m)

There still are some Nigerian (206m) names with more than 100k bearers available. The only German (83m) name available in Top300 is Kühn (61k). Kuhn (62k) is already registered.

Tool

You can easily check the availability of multiple ENS domains using @ensvision, a fantastic tool developed by ZimtenteFuryan_ethShuka and @lcfr_eth. Simply go to Bulk Search on the header menu, and paste the list. You can check the top 300 most common names for a country on https://surnam.es/ .

Final thoughts

Digital identity is key in web3 and it’s very likely to have ENS prevail as winner. Thus, [surnames].eth could be one of the great (namewrapper) plays. Also, there are definitely other use cases that will follow once the namewrapper upgrade is live, some of them probably not even discussed right now.

As always, being ahead of time could pay off big time. But please note that this is Not Financial Advice. #NFA

PS: Enjoy the process!

This article is an updated version of the thread that was initially published here on August 6, 2022, and is part of a series of articles Stakeborg DAO Ambassadors monthly write. Cheers!

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