Since the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) was made available in 2017, Web3 users have been able to substitute the lengthy alphanumeric combination that makes up a crypto address with a more easily remembered blockchain username or Web3 domain name. As an illustration, those who use Ethereum (ETH) can now transfer crypto to the network’s founder, Vitalik Buterin, at his username of vitalik.eth without knowing that his address is 0xd8da6bf26964af9d7eed9e03e53415d37aa96045.
Despite the progress that has been made in making it simpler to recognize users, very few have taken advantage of it. As of January, there were over 200 million distinct addresses on Ethereum, but only 2.2 million .eth names were registered. This implies that at least 97% of Ethereum addresses do not have an ENS username.
The absence of usernames in the Web3 ecosystem leads to user experience issues. Just think, if early email addresses had been composed of long strings of characters like 0x7a16ff8270133f063aab6c9977183d9e72835428 or 0x3A7937851d67Ee2f51C959663749093Dc87D9C9a, Email might not have been able to endure as a common practice.
Despite the slow start to its adoption, there appears to be a shift in favor of Web3 usernames. Recent developments in wallet and messaging applications could potentially bring in more users than ever before.
Integrating wallets with free usernames has been a major advancement.
Wallet integration and free usernames
Wallets have had the capability to comprehend Web3 names for a long time. Metamask’s changelog indicates that they added the ability to send to a .eth name shortly after the launch of ENS in October 2017. Other wallets have also embraced this feature, such as Coinbase wallet, Trustwallet, and others. Some of these wallets have also incorporated with ENS competitors Unstoppable Domains, Space ID, Bonfida, and others.
However, as new users generally do not get names assigned to them automatically, these wallets still display a crypto address to them by default.
For a user to get crypto using their Web3 name, they must first register a username with a specific name provider. This requires determining the provider to use, going to the provider’s interface, and going through the registration process.
Names can be costly, making matters worse. ENS names usually cost $5 and expire in one year, while Unstoppable Domains names that don’t need to be renewed range in price from $20-$40. When compared to signing up for a free email address with Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc., it’s easy to understand why most crypto users don’t possess a Web3 username.
Some wallet applications have been attempting to address this issue by offering free domain names to their customers. For instance, Coinbase wallet permits new users to obtain a single .cb.id username for free annually, and Kresus wallet provides its users a free .kresus username up to 8 characters long as well.
The practice of providing free usernames has only recently been initiated. Some well-known wallets such as Trustwallet and Metamask have yet to offer this capability.
The integration of instant messaging is a recent development.
Chat messaging with Web3 usernames
Certain messaging applications have started to incorporate Web3 names as usernames, thus broadening the scope of these names beyond just payments. An example of this is the Blockscan Chat, which allows users to instantly communicate with any Ethereum address or ENS username.
/Caption: Interface for Blockscan Chat. Source: Blockscan/.
When messages are sent using Blockscan chat, they generate alerts on the Etherscan block explorer. If the recipient notices the alert and logs into the app, they can access the message. The creator of the app states that all messages are end-to-end encrypted, meaning that while anyone can see if a particular user has been sent a message, only the sender and recipient can read it.
Web3 usernames are not required to use Blockscan chat, as it enables users to communicate with crypto addresses. However, usernames make it much simpler for users to locate each other in the app.
When someone registers for Grill.chat, a messaging app on the Subsocial (SUB) network, they are given a random username. However, they have the option to link their account to an Ethereum wallet, and if they do, the app will automatically change their random username to their .eth username.
Having the ability to locate other users to converse with through their web3 usernames is likely a more helpful feature than being able to transfer crypto with them.
The crypto community is still relatively small, so if a crypto user needs money from friends or family, they may be better off using traditional Web2 apps like Venmo or Apple Pay, as those in their circle may not be familiar with Web3 wallets. However, if someone wants to have conversations about crypto and Web3 apps, being able to locate them by their username could be a great benefit. This extra use-case may encourage more people to adopt Web3 names in the future.
Cross-chain names have recently emerged as a new development in Web3.
Cross-chain Web3 names
When Web3 names were initially introduced, ENS was the sole protocol that could be used to generate them, and it could only be employed on Ethereum.
As the Web3 ecosystem has expanded to include multiple chains, the variety of naming protocols has increased as well. Users can now obtain Polygon (MATIC) usernames from Unstoppable Domains, Solana (SOL) ones from Bonfida, and both Arbitrum One (ARB) and BNB Chain (BNB) names from Space ID.
Fragmenting across different chains can make it difficult for wallets and block explorers to integrate and befuddle users. For example, if a person’s Polygon username is newton.crypto, but the same name on BNB Chain is already taken, they might have to register einstein.bnb instead. When a user looks at this person’s address on a block explorer, either name could be shown, depending on which one the block explorer developer has selected, which could lead to confusion.
In this instance, if a user attempts to send crypto to newton.crypto using the BNB Chain, they may mistakenly send it to newton.bnb instead, resulting in the wrong recipient.
Several Web3 firms are attempting to resolve this issue by devising a single name for each identity across a variety of blockchains. For instance, the Redefined application permits users to register a username on Arbitrum One, but employ it to obtain payments on 8 other chains, such as Polygon, Optimism (OP), BNB Chain, Solana, Bitcoin (BTC), Fantom (FTM), Moonbeam (GLMR) and Near.
Redefined enables users to make this feature possible by allowing them to input an address or username for each network into the Arbitrum smart contract via a “manage” tab in the app. After these addresses are listed in the contract, anyone can initiate a transaction to the correct address using a “send” option on the app. To send funds, the sender only needs to be aware of the recipient’s Redefined username, not their name or address on any specific chain.
Redefined usernames start with an @ symbol and have no file extensions. For instance, @newton and @einstein are examples of redefined usernames.
Did.id, referred to as “.bit”, is a similar endeavour that is operated on the Nervos network. It allows users to register for a “.bit” username that works across 39 different networks, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Internet Computer (ICP), and many others. One can register directly with a Nervos network wallet or indirectly through Polygon.
Although there is no “send” function in Did.id’s user interface, it is compatible with nine wallet apps, such as imToken, Tokenpocket, MathWallet, Huobi Wallet, Bitkeep, HyperPay, AlphaWallet, ViaWallet, and MIBAO. Therefore, it can be accessed by those who use these wallets to send funds.
Cross-chain usernames are a fresh innovation that could encourage more people to use Web3 usernames in the long run.
When will usernames catch on?
Despite the progress made, it is uncertain how long it will take for the widespread use of Web3 usernames. Currently, more than 90% of Web3 addresses have no username associated with them, so there is a large obstacle to overcome in terms of adoption. Meanwhile, users are still required to copy and paste a complex set of characters to locate someone’s Web3 identity.
There is still a great deal of difficulty for users to contend with, particularly in regards to the ongoing high costs of registering a name for most wallet apps.
Despite this, these developments could potentially lead to widespread usage of Web3 usernames in the future.
Subscribe to our email newsletter to get the latest posts delivered right to your email.