What Is Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?

UTC by Ibukun Ogundare · 6 min read
What Is Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?
Photo: Depositphotos

Here is everything you need to know about Ethereum Name Service – distributed, open, and extensible naming system operating on the Ethereum blockchain.

First, it was Ethereum (ETH), then Ethereum PoW/PoS, then the Ethereum Merge, and it goes on and on. Ethereum is associated with many terms and concepts, and they collectively make up the entire network. The Ethereum Name Service, or ENS, is the solution to a long combination of numbers and alphabets that has caused confusion and led to losses of funds over time.

At the very beginning of the internet’s existence, one of the challenges it had was the trouble of inputting long strings of IP addresses to browse the web. However, scientists came up with the Domain Name System (DNS), which gave birth to the solution to the challenge. Hence, instead of typing out figures and punctuations such as 19.656.094.111, one can easily use Coinspeaker.com, readable and easy to remember.

Ethereum Name Service Explained

The Ethereum Name Service replaces cumbersome crypto addresses with easy-to-remember readable domain names. Based on the Ethereum blockchain, ENS, as a distributed technology, provides an URL in place of long and confusing crypto addresses. Even with the continuous technological developments in the crypto space, coupled with its wide adoption globally, the sector still faces similar issues to the old IP setup. People need to carefully type in crypto addresses when sending cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, these crypto addresses are combinations of alphabets (higher and smaller cases) and numbers. Any mistake with the crypto addresses means loss of funds with no remedy. Yes, no remedy! There are uncountable cases of lost funds due to “a little” mistake with the beneficiary’s crypto address.

For example, compare the following:

  1. 0xb794f5ea0ba39494ce839613fffba74279579268
  2. alice.eth

The first line is a 42-long combination where one can easily take the figure “0” as the alphabet “O” while the second one is simply a name+eth.

Owners of personalized ENS addresses can easily manage their crypto assets with human-friendly domain names. The primary target of ENS domains is to become the usernames of web3 and also serve as home to crypto wallets, content hashes, metadata, and websites. At the same time, a single ENS domain can be used by owners for all their crypto wallets. The domains can also receive all kinds of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Basically, ENS has made transactions more secure and decentralized, eliminating lengthy and confusing crypto addresses.

ENS consists of two Ethereum smart contracts, namely the ENS Registry and the Resolver.

  • ENS Registry. The ENS registry works on documentation. It stores the data of the domain owner, the resolver of the domains, and the caching time-to-live for all records in the domain. Each domain name in the ENS has an owner. However, owners are allowed to transfer their domain names to new owners as they wish. The ENS Registry manages, records, monitors, and tracks the actions of registrants who buy domains and register them on the name service. Registrants can transfer tier registration to another account, and they can recover them as desired.
  • The Resolver. On the other hand, the Resolver is responsible for translating domain names into addresses.

Currently, ENS will not work on Chrome or Safari. Browsers that support the Ethereum Name Service are Opera, Status (mobile), Puma, MetaMask Mobile (mobile), and Brave.

Team Behind ENS

Initially, Alex Van de Sande and Nick Johnson led the development of the ENS. Both developers of the Ethereum Foundation came together in 2017 to co-found the name service. However, the initiative became a separate organization in 2018 and started operating under the leadership of Nick Johnson.

True Names Limited (TNL), a Singaporean non-profit organization founded in 2018, is in charge of the core software development of ENS. With Nick Johnson as the Creator and Lead Developer, Khori Whittaker serves as the Executive Director. Generally, the ENS team comprises talents and experts, including Dan Finlay from Metamask, Aron Fischer from Colony, Sergey Nazarov from Chainlink, and more.

DNS vs ENS

DNS, or Domain Name Service and ENS, or Ethereum Name Service have highly related features, especially as both protocols can manage human interactions with web2 and web3. While the DNS converts an IP address into a more-comprehensive string called a URL, ENS transforms Ethereum addresses into readable strings.

Both ENS and DNS simplify a complex online address, whether it’s an IP address or crypto wallet address, into a simple, legible name. However, while DNS services are often centralized, ENS is decentralized, which gives more protection against hackers.

ENS DAO

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which is basically an organization with no centralized leadership, operates the ENS. The DAO is governed by the holders of ENS tokens. The token holders have access to present proposals and vote towards future development. Simply put, the ENS DAO is a DAO that governs the ENS protocol.

The mission of ENS DAO is to empower web3 citizens to interact easily with people, organizations, and smart contracts through self-sovereign identities.

ENS Governance Token

Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the ENS governance token is a standard token mainly used for the governance of the entire Ethereum Name Service. The ENS governance token uses the ERC-20 standard, and holders are positioned for certain benefits. Holds of the token use it to communicate changes, such as submitting proposals and casting votes.

ENS governance token holders will be able to participate in a vote at the end of 2022. The community wants to vote on the ENS constitution. While each token can cast only one vote, 67% of supporting votes are required for the article to pass.

The claiming process for airdropped ENS tokens began on the 8th of November and ended on the 4th of May, 2022.

ENS Use Cases

Here are some of the use cases for domain names:

  • Sending and receiving crypto and NFTs. While people can send holders of ENS domain name tips, the holder can also receive crypto assets using the ENS domain. Easily, users can add their BTC, ETH, DOGE, and LTC addresses to their .eth domain.
  • Create an ENS subdomain. Owners of ENS domains can create a subdomain that works for their business or brand. That way, employees can have their subdomains.
  • NFT-like use. You can use your ENS as an NFT, storing, transferring, and trading them.

More use cases for the ENS include identity management, validating ownership of transferable and saleable assets, stabilizing high gas fees, etc.

Bottom Line

ENS is an advent in the crypto world that eradicated confusion and complexity regarding addresses. The way DNS brought ease in the early days of the internet, so is ENS in the crypto industry. Since its inception, there has been enhanced overall user experience and protection of records of domains and names.

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FAQ

What is Ethereum Name Service?

Ethereum Name Service is an open and distributed name service built on the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to create a simple username for their crypto wallet addresses and decentralized websites. 

What makes ENS stand out?

ENS is the solution to long series of numbers to short, memorable, and non-confusing links. With ENS, users can create a universal nickname that serves multiple public addresses and decentralized websites. 

Who created ENS?

Nick Johnson is the founder and Lead Developer of the Ethereum Name Service. 

 

What is the key difference between ENS and DNS?

ENS is like the web3 version of the DNS. While ENS is decentralized, DNS services are often centralized. 

 

How to register an Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain?

You can register an ENS domain on a desktop or mobile through Ethereum-enabled browsers such as Opera, MetaMask Mobile, etc. Afterwards, interested individuals can visit apps.ens.domains and search for the desired .eth name. Please, note that the name could either be registered by someone else or available for a new registrant. 

Notably, those who want to register an ENS domain need crypto wallets like Torus, MetaMask, MEW, and some ETH.

How much does an ENS domain cost?

An ENS domain costs at least $5 per year. The fee is paid in Ethereum, and users may have to pay Ethereum transaction charges. While yearly renewal for five characters or longer costs $5, four character names cost $160, and 3 character names are $640.

Where can you buy ENS tokens?

Anyone can buy ENS tokens on Coinbase, eToro, and other exchanges that support the governance token. More options on where to buy ENS tokens are Crypto.com, OKX, Mandala Exchange, Bitget, and FTX.

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