Since the inception of ENS (Ethereum Name Service) in 2017, web3 users were able to use an easily memorable Web3 username or blockchain domain name that sets up the crypto address.
However, while the advancement has made it easier for people to identify the users, there hasn’t been enough implementation of the technology yet. Among the 200 million addresses on the Ethereum network, as of January, only 2.2 million. eth names have been registered. This states that 97% of the Ethereum addresses are not registered under the ENS username.
In the web3 ecosystem, an address without a username will create user experience issues. Imagine if email addresses looked like long forms of alpha-numeric characters (dA2BHSbD3YUdV9GsKC12T4Y3UKCBHFa), it wouldn’t have survived. Despite the lack of adoption of usernames, evidence shows that the storm may turn in favor of web3 usernames. The new developments in free usernames, and wallet integration may onboard the users after all.
Wallets can identify and understand Web3 names for long periods. As per the changelog of MetaMask, it allowed users to send ‘.eth’ names since October 2017, shortly after ENS was launched. Other wallets quickly followed through such as Trust Wallet, Coinbase Wallet, and more. Some wallets have also integrated with the ENS rivals such as Space ID, Unstoppable Domains, Bonfida, etc. However, since the new users do not automatically receive names, the wallets show the crypto addresses by default.
For any individual to receive crypto through their web3 address, they require to register a username with a name provider. This requires the users to find out a particular provider name, explore their interface, and complete the registration process. The problem is these names can be very expensive. For example, ENS charges $5 for names annually. On the other hand, the Unstoppable Domain charge typically between $20-$40 for a lifetime. Now imagine, how easy it is to sign up for a Gmail or a Facebook account. This is the main reason, why the users are not registering for Web3 usernames.
This has led several wallets to distribute free usernames domains. Although the practice is recent, several wallets such as MetaMask, trust Wallet do not offer the feature. However, with more web3 users, this may result in a larger adoption.
The messaging applications are applying web3 names as usernames and enabling them to use their usernames beyond payment utility.
Blockscan Chat allows its users to send messages to any ENS username. Any message sent through the chat produces alerts on Etherscan block explorer. If the recipient checks the alert and logs into the application, they can view it. The developers of Blockscan claim that the messages in the application are end-to-end encrypted.
Another messaging application, Grill.chat attaches a random username to the users who signup. It also allows users to attach their Ethereum wallets. If this is done, the application automatically converts the username to .eth username. This feature will help the users to find other crypto users and also send crypto to them.
The crypto community. Whenever the crypto user needs money they use web2 apps and receive money from their friends and family, as not everyone is familiar with web3 applications. The username feature will help the crypto users to communicate and look them up in the crypto space.
When the Web3 usernames were invented, the users could only use ENS to create them and it could only be used on the Ethereum network. Today, the web3 ecosystem has encompassed several chains. However, as the number of chains is growing, the username protocols are growing alongside. Crypto users can register Solana usernames from Bonfida, Unstoppable Domains provides Polygon usernames, and Space ID provides usernames to both BNB Chain and Arbitrum One.
The division of chains makes wallet integration difficult and confuses the users. Suppose a user on Polygon has the username ‘Alexa.crypto’. However, when they register on some other chain like BNB, the name ‘Alexa.bnb’ already exists, so they change their name to ‘alx.bnb’. If any other person looks for the user on the block explorer, either of the names could appear, and could confuse the user. This may also result in sending crypto to the wrong recipients.
Some of the eb3 firms are working on fixing the issue, and trying to assign one username to the crypto users across all chains. The Redefined application allows their users to register their usernames on Arbitrium One and receive funds from other chains such as Polygon, Bitcoin, Solana, BNB, and others. In this application, the user writes the name and address of every chain on a managing tab and adds a Redefined name. This removes all the confusion and the hassle of entering the recipient’s name or address.
These cross-chain Web3 usernames are a new development that may stimulate the adoption of usernames.
Although there have been recent developments, the period for mainstream adoption of web3 usernames is not yet certain. At present, more than 90% of web3 users do not have a registered username. Therefore, in terms of adoption, it might take a long time. Meanwhile, the users require to cut and paste a lengthy alpha-numerical crypto address to find a person’s identity. While there are many reasons refraining users to get a registered web3 username, the new development is a beacon of hope for the mass adoption of web3 usernames in the future.