Ethereum Name Service (ENS)

What is Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is a decentralized domain name system (DNS) that provides a user-friendly and human-readable alternative to Ethereum addresses.

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At its core, ENS operates as a domain registrar on the Ethereum blockchain, translating addresses into more memorable names.

This functionality improves the user experience by replacing lengthy and complex hexadecimal strings with human-readable names, simplifying the process of sending and receiving funds on the Ethereum network.

Users can register domain names through an auction process, similar to traditional DNS practices. Once registered, these domain names become unique assets on the Ethereum blockchain, owned and controlled by the successful bidder.

Techopedia Explains

Launched on May 4, 2017, by Nick Johnson and Alex Van de Sande from the Ethereum Foundation (EF), the ENS system mirrors the structure of the traditional DNS used on the internet.

The decentralized DNS supports various top-level domains (TLDs), enabling users to choose names like “.eth” or “.xyz” based on their preferences. For example, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin can utilize his ENS domain “Vitalik.eth” instead of the traditional string of characters that accompanies standard wallet addresses.

A key advantage of the ENS is its decentralized nature, providing censorship resistance and eliminating the risk of domain seizures or manipulations by a single authority, unlike traditional domain registrars.

Additionally, ENS provides a robust infrastructure for developers to integrate domain names into decentralized applications (dApps). This integration allows users to interact with blockchain-based applications using more intuitive and recognizable domain names.

Like other decentralized platforms deployed on Ethereum, the domain system is powered by a utility token. This ERC-20 token is essential in facilitating various functions, including registrations and interactions within the system.

History of Ethereum Naming Service

Since its inception in 2017, the ENS ecosystem has recorded significant events. Here, we delve into a few of them.

Year Event
2018 Introduction of ENS tokenomics to shape the economic model of the ENS ecosystem.
2021 ENS introduced a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) for community governance.
2022 The protocol collaborated with Layer 2 scaling solutions to enhance scalability.
2023 Introduction of new features like NameWrapper, ENSjs Refactor, and EVM Gateway.
Ledger Wallet integrated the ENS protocol.
2024 Ongoing developments such as gasless DNS names and advancements in Layer 2 research.

The ENS Token

The ENS token serves as the native token within the Ethereum Name Service ecosystem. As of January 16, the token’s total supply is capped at 100 million, with 30.6 million currently in circulation.

The ENS token holds significant value in the ecosystem, offering various functionalities:

Functionality of ENS Token

Governance

Token holders can actively engage in the governance of the protocol. Through decentralized governance, the community gains the authority to propose and vote on upgrades, changes, or additions to the ENS system.

The weight of a participant’s vote is typically proportional to their ENS token holdings. This ensures a democratic process that empowers stakeholders with a vested interest in the ecosystem.

Staking for Participation

While ENS tokens do not involve the traditional staking process, users can express support for specific proposals or changes within the governance framework by utilizing their tokens. This form of staking enables token holders to demonstrate commitment to protocol adjustments or improvements. Staked tokens endorse specific initiatives, contributing to the consensus-building process within the ENS community.

Registration

The ENS token is essential for registering and managing domain names. During the auction process, users bid and pay in ENS tokens to acquire ownership of specific domain names on the Ethereum blockchain.

Incentive

The ENS tokens serve as incentives for individuals or entities operating as registrars within the ENS ecosystem. Registrars play a crucial role in assisting users with registering and managing their domain names. In return for their services, they receive ENS tokens.

Speculation

Like other crypto assets, the ENS token functions as an economic unit within the ENS ecosystem. The token can be bought, sold, or traded on various cryptocurrency exchanges. This allows participants to engage with the token, potentially generating significant returns on investment based on price movements.

ENS Tokenomics

The ENS tokenomics encompasses a strategic allocation of its total supply of 100 million tokens, with specific portions designated for distinct purposes:

  • Airdrop Allocation: A significant portion of the ENS token supply, representing 25.00%, is allocated to airdrop This distribution method aims to ensure wider community engagement and participation.
  • Core Contributors Allocation: Core contributors, who play a vital role in the development and growth of the Ethereum Name Service, are allocated 19.54% of the total token supply. This allocation serves as a reward for their dedicated efforts and contributions to the ENS ecosystem.
  • Other Contributors Allocation: Additional contributors beyond the core team are allocated 5.46% of the total token supply. This allocation acknowledges the diverse range of individuals or entities supporting ENS development and adoption.
  • Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) Community Treasury Allocation: A significant half of the total token supply, accounting for 50.00%, is allocated to the DAO community treasury. This portion is dedicated to supporting the development of community initiatives and maintaining the overall health of the ENS community.

How Does the Ethereum Name Service Work?

Five-Tier Framework of Ethereum Name Service

The Ethereum Name Service simplifies user experience on the Ethereum blockchain through a structured five-tier framework:

  1. Domain Registration: Users can register domain names through an auction process, selecting from top-level domains (TLDs) like “.eth.” This ensures a fair allocation of domain names to the highest bidder. Users gain full control and ownership of the unique domain names upon successful registration.
  2. Mapping to Ethereum Addresses: Once a domain is registered, it is mapped to a specific Ethereum address. This mapping is stored on the Ethereum network, creating a decentralized and secure way to associate human-readable names with lengthy and complex addresses.
  3. Resolution of Names: ENS facilitates the resolution of names to their corresponding Ethereum addresses when users wish to interact with a specific domain. This process mirrors the traditional DNS, translating domain names into IP addresses for seamless interaction.
  4. Decentralized Infrastructure: ENS leverages the decentralized nature of the Ethereum blockchain, ensures censorship resistance, and averts the risk of domain seizures or manipulations by any single authority. This aligns with blockchain technology’s core principles and promotes trustlessness and user empowerment.
  5. Integration with DApps: ENS is designed to integrate seamlessly with dApps and services. Users can interact with blockchain-based applications using human-readable domain names. This improves the overall user experience and makes blockchain technology more accessible.

What is the Ethereum Name Service Used For?

The Ethereum Name Service plays a pivotal role in transforming crypto addresses on the Ethereum network. Traditionally, users grapple with complex alpha-numeric strings serving as addresses. However, ENS revolutionizes this intricate process by empowering users to register and employ human-readable domain names.

This emphasis on user-friendly addressing is not just a matter of convenience; it marks a substantial leap in accessibility for crypto enthusiasts interacting with blockchain technology.

The shift from hexadecimal strings to human-readable domain names not only streamlines the Ethereum experience but also enhances approachability for a broader audience.

Ethereum Name Service Roadmap

Since its inception, the Ethereum Name Service has consistently achieved impressive innovations and goals to be fully decentralized. Here is a breakdown of recent milestones and new objectives.

Completed In Progress Up Next
CCIP-Read: This innovation provides scalability within the ENS ecosystem, which enables users to create ENS profiles for free off-chain.
Launch Date: October 2022
Gasless DNS Names: This initiative aims to reduce transaction costs for users utilizing DNS names within the ENS ecosystem. Sign-in With Ethereum (SIWE): This integration aims to enhance user authentication and streamline the sign-in process.
NameWrapper: The NameWrapper introduced a novel functionality by allowing ENS names to become ERC-1155 tokens. This innovation provided users with better controls and consistency as ENS names transformed into tradable tokens.
Launch Date: March 2023
Development Pipeline Improvements: Ongoing efforts include changes to the testing pipeline to expedite feature releases and ensure a more streamlined development process for future updates. Favourites: This feature will provide users with enhanced customization options for managing their preferred ENS domains.
Manager App 3: The Manager App V3 represents the next generation of the ENS manager. This release improved functionality and user experience, offering a more refined interface for users to interact with the ENS.
Launch Date: April 2023
Multi-Delegate Manager: The development of a dApp designed to enable frictionless delegation across multiple ENS delegates is underway. This feature aims to enhance the delegation process within the ENS ecosystem. Dark Mode: The introduction of a Dark Mode for the ENS manager is under consideration. This will offer users an alternative visual interface for improved accessibility, especially in low-light environments.
Normalization Standard: Integration of the new normalization standard into the ENS manager streamlines and enhances the overall naming conventions within the ENS ecosystem.
Launch Date: April 2023
Layer Two (L2) Research: This research aims to improve scalability and overall performance. Eth.link Site Refresh: A refresh of the Eth.link site with Thorin styles is planned. This site revamp aims to align with the updated design system
Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) Gateway: This innovation introduces a generic CCIP-Read gateway for fetching state proofs of data on other EVM chains, fostering a more connected and versatile ENS infrastructure.
Launch Date: November 2023
Thorin 1.0 Release: The ENS design system’s open-sourced Figma and component library, known as Thorin, is expected to reach its 1.0 release.
ENSjs Refactor: The ENSjs Refactor is a slimmed-down rewrite of the JavaScript ENS library. This refactor improves the efficiency and functionality of the library, contributing to a more robust ENS ecosystem.
Launch Date: December 2023

Merits of Ethereum Name Service

In this section, we delve into the notable strengths of the ENS ecosystem, highlighting its diverse functionalities and contributions to decentralized identity and naming within the Ethereum blockchain.

Merits Description
Decentralized Domain Management ENS allows users to have decentralized ownership and control over domain names on the Ethereum blockchain. This reduces dependency on traditional domain registrars and increases security.
Human-Readable Addresses Crypto enthusiasts can leverage ENS to replace complex, lengthy Ethereum addresses with human-readable domain names. This improves user experience by making transactions more accessible and intuitive.
Interoperability ENS supports interoperability by allowing users to map domain names to addresses on other EVM-compatible blockchains to facilitate cross-chain transactions.
ERC-721 and ERC-1155 Integration ENS names can be represented as ERC-721 or ERC-1155 tokens, enabling new use cases and possibilities in decentralized finance (DeFi).
Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) ENS has a DAO community treasury that supervises community governance and decision-making. Users holding ENS tokens can participate in shaping the protocol’s future through proposals and voting.
Secure Naming System ENS utilizes blockchain technology to secure and maintain tamper-proof domain ownership records. This reduces the risk of domain breaches and unauthorized changes.
Scalability The introduction of features like CCIP-Read and ongoing L2 (Layer 2) research indicates a commitment to scalability to accommodate a large user base and evolving blockchain technologies.

Demerits of Ethereum Name Service

While the ENS platform boasts impressive features, there are some potential drawbacks, including:

Demerits Description
Centralization of Domain Ownership While ENS aims for decentralization, the initial distribution of ENS domains could lead to centralization if a small number of entities own a significant number of desirable names.
Dependency on the Ethereum Network ENS’s reliance on the Ethereum network means its performance is tied to the scalability and congestion issues faced by the Ethereum blockchain. Users may experience delays or increased transaction costs during high demand or network congestion.
Steep Learning Curve Adopting ENS requires users to understand blockchain concepts and interact with dApps. This educational barrier may limit mainstream adoption as users accustomed to traditional domain registration may need to familiarize themselves with the decentralized model.
Security Concerns While ENS leverages blockchain security, the risk of phishing attacks remains. Users must ensure they interact and carefully verify ownership details to mitigate the risk of unauthorized domain transfers or compromises.

How to Buy Ethereum Name Service Token

To purchase the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) token, follow these steps:

  1. Choose an Exchange: Select a reputable cryptocurrency exchange that supports ENS token trading.
  2. Sign Up: Create an account on the chosen exchange and provide all the information needed for verification processes.
  3. Deposit Funds: Investors can deposit funds in their accounts using fiat currency or cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum (ETH) or Bitcoin (BTC).
  4. Navigate to ENS Markets: Head to the trading section of the exchange and locate the markets designated for ENS tokens. Here, you can initiate the purchase of ENS using your preferred cryptocurrency.
  5. Place an Order: Choose the amount of ENS tokens to be purchased and place a buy order.
  6. Secure Storage: After purchase, transfer your ENS tokens to a secure cryptocurrency wallet for safe storage.

Where to Buy Ethereum Name Service

Investors can purchase the ENS tokens on various cryptocurrency exchanges that support its trading. Popular exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, and decentralized exchanges like Uniswap are common platforms where ENS tokens are listed.

The Bottom Line

The Ethereum Name Service enhances user interactions and transactions by substituting intricate addresses with easily readable domain names. ENS has progressed by introducing features like name tokenization and ongoing enhancements, thereby contributing to a more adaptable and user-friendly decentralized identity solution.

As the adoption of blockchain technology expands, ENS is positioned to offer secure and intuitive domain solutions while aligning with ongoing technological advancements and community needs.

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Jimmy Aki

A graduate of the University of Virginia and now based in the UK, Jimmy has been following the development of blockchain for several years, optimistic about its potential to democratize the financial system. Jimmy's previously published work can be found on BeInCrypto, Bitcoin Magazine, Decrypt, EconomyWatch, Forkast.news, Investing.com, Learnbonds.com, MoneyCheck.com, Buyshares.co.uk and a range of other leading media publications. Jimmy has been investing in Bitcoin himself since 2018 and more recently in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) since their boom in 2021, with expertise in trading, crypto mining and personal finance. Alongside writing for Techopedia, Jimmy is also a trained economist, accountant and blockchain…