What is Ethereum Name Service (ENS)?

Ethereum Name Service ENS

If you have been anywhere near crypto Twitter this week you will have heard a lot of noise about the ENS airdrop, but what is ENS, and why is this airdrop such big news?

What is ENS?

Short for ‘Ethereum Name Service’, ENS has been around for a long time – in fact it was launched in May 2017 making it one of the earlier Ethereum projects.

ENS is a decentralized, open source platform that runs as a set of Ethereum smart contracts. The platform allows anyone to claim ownership of an Ethereum (.ETH) domain. You can think of a .ETH domain as being the equivalent of a regular DNS domain (e.g. .com or .org) that you would use to point people to your website or email address.

Nowadays, if you want to visit google.com, you just type google.com into your browser and away you go. It wasn’t always this way though. Before DNS was a thing you had to type in an IP address, something like 173.194.211.100, to visit a website. ENS is the same as DNS but for Web3, instead of sending a transaction to an address like 0xc6319f7d3430975c8576418e714ddbfbc0eb1977, you can just send it to numio.eth instead.

It just makes things easier.

There are however a few differences between DNS and ENS.

Firstly, an ENS isn’t like a regular domain. Its primary purpose is not merely connecting to a website, email address, or web service. Instead it points to an Ethereum wallet address, as well as wallet addresses from other blockchains, allowing payments to be made to and from that name, and for that name to interact with other smart contracts, including websites hosted on the decentralized web (more on this below). 

Secondly, a DNS domain relies on a central authority, such as a hosting service like Godaddy or Namecheap, to control and manage your domains. This means these domains can be hijacked, blocked or shut down at any time and without your knowledge or permission. The ENS system is different. Being decentralized means that no central authority can take control. Once you own an ENS domain that is it. It’s yours (for as long as you pay the annual registration fee of course).

What is ENS Used For?

Currently ENS has three main use cases.

Wallets

The most popular use of ENS is in crypto wallets. When you own an ENS domain you can assign the name to the wallet address of your choice making it a lot simpler to receive payments (when using supported wallets).

Identity

ENS names are a very useful tool in identity management – giving you another layer of proof about who you are when interacting with Web3 services.

Decentralized web

ENS can also be used like traditional DNS and point people to a website via their browser.

The difference between a DNS and ENS website is that (currently) they must be hosted on a decentralized IPFS service and they only work on certain browsers. They are also a lot more basic, without many of the features most people are used to on web2.0. There is a lot of work being done around the “decentralized web”, and it will be incredible to see how these ecosystems progress together.

It will also be interesting to see what the metaverse brings to the table?

What is the ENS Airdrop?

The airdrop is part of a greater process where control of the service is being further decentralized by the creation of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO; with the ENS token being the key to having your say in how the service is run. It is not meant to view the airdrop of ENS as money, but more so as a piece of ownership in the future of identity in Web3.

And what better way to make that process fair and reward those that have supported you in the past than giving 25% of the tokens to people that have bought and registered ENS domains in the past!

If you ever had an ENS Domain before the 31st October snapshot you can check to see if you can make a claim here.

How do I get an ENS name?

Getting an ENS name is easy.

  1. Make sure you have a compatible wallet with enough Ethereum.

  2. Head over to https://ens.domains/ and click Launch App in the top right.

  3. Connect your wallet.

  4. Search for the name of your choice.

  5. If the search is green you are good to go – click on the result. If it is greyed out then someone already has it and you’ll need to search for another name.

  6. Check the price and increase the number of years to save on Gas fees later.

    It is worth noting here that three and four digit ENS domains are significantly more expensive than domains with five characters and more. Current prices are;

    • 5+ character .eth names are $5 (ETH) per year.
    • 4 character .eth names are $160 (ETH) per year.
    • 3 character .eth names are $640 (ETH) per year.

    Gas is an additional cost on top of the fee, paid in ETH. If you need to purchase ETH, you can always use your Numio mobile app to buy some with a debit or credit card.

  7. You now have to complete three steps to claim your ENS.

    • Request to Register: a transaction to confirm that you want to buy the name.
    • Wait One Minute: to prevent more than one person from attempting to register the name. This also helps prevent other individuals from attempting to front-run your purchase.
    • Complete Registration: the final transaction that completes the process and confirms that the name is yours.

  8. Congratulations, the ENS name is now yours.
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ENS on Numio

Numio is planning to add ENS names to a forthcoming release. Until then, you can use the app to send and receive your $ENS tokens on Layer 1, or via zkRollups on zkSync.

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