Cryptocurrency Domains 101

With PayPal not so subtly looking for cryptocurrency engineers to join their team, it seems like we are mere moments away from a new era of cryptocurrency adoption. With this will come a surge in demand and usage of crypto related technologies. Of these technologies one of the most significant is cryptocurrency domains. Before we dive into it, we should give credit where credit is due – this article is inspired by CoinBureau’s recent YouTube video on the subject which you should definitely check out (perhaps even before reading this article!). 

What is a domain? 

To understand what a cryptocurrency domain is, we first need to briefly review what a regular domain is and how it works. In short, regular domains such as .com, .net, .ca, .org etc., are basically addresses on the internet that direct to websites. These websites often need to be stored on a centralized server such as GoDaddy. These website providers charge yearly fees to host your website and can theoretically shut it down at any time. 

Those who were lucky enough to buy into website domains early were handsomely rewarded. Perhaps the most relevant example is crypto.com, which was purchased in the 90s for 2 dollars and sold over 2 decades later for millions of dollars. That’s a pretty impressive ROI! The question is whether crypto domains will yield the same insane potential. We think yes, and you will probably agree once you understand what they are. 

What is a cryptocurrency domain? 

There are three big differences between a cryptocurrency domain and a regular web domain. The first is that the hosting is not centralized but decentralized. Domains are built on blockchains such as Ethereum and, being distributed, cannot be shut down from a single point by any circumstance. This also makes the possibility of a website going down nearly impossible. The second difference is related to the first: you do not have to pay a yearly fee to keep your website up and running. Instead, you pay a one time fee and that domain is yours for life!

The third difference between a crypto domain and a regular website is the most important. If you want to accept payments with regular websites you have to install a whole bunch of complicated plug-ins or third party platforms to make it happen. Since crypto domains are made on the blockchain as a “wallet” address, you can actually transfer cryptocurrency directly to the website instead of going through some payment gateway.

If you still don’t think that’s a big deal, consider the following. When you want to transfer cryptocurrency today, you always have to carefully copy and paste and address you will be sending it to. This can be incredibly nerve racking because if you make even a single mistake then you will lose that crypto forever. Dealing with all of these complicated addresses is without a doubt one of the largest technical barriers to entry within the space.

Now imagine that instead of having to constantly copy-paste some complicated address, you could simply send crypto to “yourname.crypto”. Wouldn’t that be way easier? Yes, the answer is yes. It would make transacting cryptocurrency even easier than navigating all of the third party payment pop-ups you get almost every time you use a classic website! Except this time there is no middle-man and as a website owner/holder you never have to worry about getting shut down in an era which is quite literally an information war. 

Where to buy a cryptocurrency domain

If you’re interested in buying a cryptocurrency domain, there are really only two options for the time being. The first is Unstoppable Domains, an admittedly fantastic website that makes purchasing domains incredibly simple. No KYC is required and you can pay via credit card or crypto. Their support team is quick to respond to requests and most importantly, the prices for many domains are fairly reasonable and average around 40$USD. The most expensive domain we’ve seen there so far was worth 800$USD (gases.crypto). 

The second option is OpenSea. Like Unstoppable Domains, it is an incredibly intuitive platform which lets you buy domains from those who have decided to sell. You may encounter a few search results in Unstoppable Domains that direct you to OpenSea to buy them. This is because OpenSea has crypto domains which have already been purchased and are being sold by individuals who are trying to make a quick flip. 

When browsing on these sites, you will see that there are generally 3 options: .eth, .zil, and .crypto. To be blunt, we do not believe that there is any real point in looking beyond .crypto domains. These are the most intuitive and eye-catching. The idea of cryptocurrency domains goes hand in hand with .crypto, and not so much with .zil or .eth at the cognitive level. This is not to say the other two are “worse”, it’s just a basic fact of human cognition. 

How to choose a cryptocurrency domain 

Okay, you’re convinced. You’re ready to buy a cryptocurrency domain, but not so fast! We should make it clear that we are not financial (or domain?) advisors but we believe that we have found the ultimate formula for picking a cryptocurrency domain. The whole reason we wrote this article was to address this exact topic. You can consider it a response to that Coin Bureau video we mentioned at the beginning.

In that video, Guy mentioned that the way he selects domains is by focusing on short words or phrases that are or he believes will be popular in the tech industry. Industries outside of tech will be some of the last to adopt these technologies and as such you should focus on those which will actually use these domains. The majority of them will of course be in the blockchain/crypto space.

While this is a good rule of thumb, we believe this is actually not the appropriate method to go about selecting cryptocurrency domains. This is for one simple reason: use-case. The value of cryptocurrency domains is their censorship resistance and the ability to make payment directly to the website without the use of any additional tech. Take a moment to think about which industries desperately require these perks. If you’re having trouble, we can list two very simple ones: travel and journalism. 

Any words or short phrases related to airlines, cruises, busses, trains, carpooling, hotels, accommodation are all domains which currently (or at least prior to the coronavirus) process hundreds of thousands of transactions per day. Busses.crypto is currently selling for 200$USD on Unstoppable Domains. We reckon that busses will still exist in 2 decades and so long as they do, there will eventually be substantial demand for that domain name by someone somewhere with a bus company. 

The same goes for journalism or any field which involves the exchange of information. Text-heavy websites which employ a subscription model such as Medium are becoming increasingly popular. Words related to the field such as penpal (currently selling for 200$USD on Unstoppable Domains) will certainly be in high demand by similar services in the future. Last but not least, having a domain related to information secrecy or transparency such as WikiLeaks will always be something that people will demand. 

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