The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) was first released on the Ethereum mainnet on 4th of May 2017. This allowed for an automated auction process where anyone could register a .eth domain TLD using the auction process.
This allowed anyone to purchase one of the .eth domains that had at least 7 characters in it. There has been a great deal of demand for this as there have been over 618,000 auctions that have taken place. The ENS will also allow for shorter domain names to be registered that are less than 7 characters.
The hope is that the ENS will help facilitate the move to human readable Ethereum addresses and hence facilitate mass adoption. As many know, normal Ethereum addresses are 41 characters and are a collection of digits and letters. They are far from human readable. Through the use of ENS, one can create a greatly simplified version of these addresses.
Domain Ownership Interest
Given that these domains are limited in supply for certain names, there is no wonder that there has been a great interest in purchasing a great deal of these on auction. People would like to buy popular names in order to sell them to second hand buyers. They have also been looking for ways in which they can quickly and efficiently pass these names on to these purchasers.
Unlike in traditional domain sales, there is still no .eth domain escrow system that has been implemented in order to transfer these names. With some really valuable domains changing hands, these people have had to rely on rudimentary smart contracts, legal agreements or even trust.
The demand for some of these names is indeed quite surprising. There have been Ethereum names that have changed hands for values that one would expect for highly valuable .com domains. For example, there have been sales for domains such as exchange.eth which was sold for 6,660 ETH which was about $609k at the time.
These purchases were likely made by domain flippers who wanted to buy high value names in the hope of being able to sell at a premium sometime in the future. There is the belief that as more businesses start to adopt Ethereum as a method of payment , they will seek easy addresses to receive these payments. It does appear that there has not been a great deal of these domains put to use which reinforces the domain flipping notion.
It is no surprise that one of the first places that a marketplace for the domains is the front page of the internet. There have been quite a few sales that have been co-ordinated on the ENS subreddit /r/ENSMarket. There are currently a little over 300 subscribers on this subreddit looking to buy / sell.
One of the first public domain marketplaces which is allowing .eth addresses to list is Name Bazaar. This will allow owners of these addresses to easily sell them and make use of trustless smart contracts on the platform.
It is a much simpler process for these buyers and sellers to process the transfer of ownership and funds. This is because the smart contracts can make use of Parity or MetaMask browser extension. All that is required from the seller is an Ethereum address to receive the funds.
The hope is that as the demand for Ethereum domains starts to take off and mass adoption of Ethereum payments takes hold, more domain registrars will allow for the including of .eth domains.
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