It's been some time since I last wrote about ENS. After publishing MeetENS.eth.limo my team and I focused on building our product while somewhat impatiently awaiting the launch of Name Wrapper. And now that it's out there, as Mr. Holmes would say, "the game is afoot."
There are so many amazing people in the ENS community, who provide educational materials about ENS, keep everyone updated with new developments, cover the governance news, support and actively advocate for the ENS names and the protocol itself, and so on.
Given that every single aspect of ENS is covered, I decided to take a different approach that aligns with my initial motivation for writing and focus on making predictions about the future of ENS.
That said, we’re here now, asking the right questions and trying to provide the correct answers. Who will drive the mass adoption of ENS? I’ve managed to narrow it down to the following (ranked by the non-existent ‘random’ function):
Centralized Exchanges and Wallets
SDKs, APIs, tools & services (Wallet-as-a-Service and AA)
ENS Labs team
Metaverse and the Gaming industry
Decentralized social networks
DNS managers - Domain name providers
Let’s dive in.
1. Centralized exchanges and Wallets
It’s difficult not to start with Centralized Exchanges as the number one driving force behind the potential mass adoption of .eth names. Especially because we have Coinbase as a Case Study for a job well done in utilizing Web3 identity through ENS on their platform. CEXes in general are leveraging their user-friendly interfaces, familiar onboarding process, established user bases, and robust infrastructure.
Since Coinbase integrated ENS and launched Coinbase Profiles, 2M new crypto users got their brand new web3 (cb.id) identity. That means that a single entity is solely responsible for issuing 2M names, and who knows how many more in the future.
An article from March 2023 states that “Coinbase reported 98 million registered users in early 2022, a 42 million increase on the same time last year, with 9M of them trading actively (at least once a month).”
Here’s a screenshot from the same article:
The same argument can be made for Non-custodial (and custodial) wallets. There are great examples, such as Rainbow Wallet, that have done an amazing job allowing people to easily register their .eth name and get an ENS profile, everything from their app. So if other wallets were to follow the path of Rainbow and implement ENS, they would focus on giving out .eth names to their new users instead of the 42-character address.
According to CoinDesk’s latest article, Metamask has more than 30M active monthly users. I wish we had the number of people who used Rainbow Wallet to register a name. As a matter of fact, there’s an ongoing discussion at the moment around building a way to track the source of ENS Registrations and implementing a referral fee structure that can be used by other wallets and platforms providing a way for users to secure their digital identity. Read more about it here.
Now imagine if all of those people decided to mint their .eth name and a social profile from the Rainbow app. This action alone from one wallet provider would effectively 10x the number of ENS users if not more. And there lies the power of future adoption through wallets!
There is no indication that these numbers are going to slow down as we, as crypto maniacs, collectively agree that we are still early and crypto is taking over. Coinbase is yet to provide a way (an incentive) for its existing (and growing) user base to claim their cb.id profile. If they successfully do that by the time the next bear market arrives, that means we’ll have close to a 100M cb.id names issued by Coinbase alone, through ENS.
Therefore, all of these exchanges possess the potential to significantly expedite the mass adoption of .eth names through seamless integration with the ENS. Right at the gates of entering the world of crypto, from that point onwards, users would be given an ID (NAME) along with the KEY as a verifiable credential of their on-chain existence, that would replace long 42-character addresses with no emotional meaning.
ENS has been making strides in increasing its partnerships and working hard behind the scenes to bring ENS to the masses through a variety of partners. Everyone knows that I’m a big proponent of active BizDev efforts for every company, DAO, non-profit, anything and I’ve made my intentions known in the proposal I wrote on the Governance forum here.
Integrating ENS with CEXes and Wallets and providing every new user with a Web3 ID, right at the gates and the moment they are first entering crypto, not only enhances user experience but also propels the wider adoption of ENS, facilitating the realization of its potential as a decentralized identity standard.
2. SDKs, APIs, tools & services (Wallet-as-a-Service and AA)
The reason why the term 'entrepreneur' is not commonly used in the cryptocurrency industry is not a coincidence, I believe. Although there are entrepreneurs and founders in the industry, they still call themselves 'builders'. This terminology reflects the fact that the majority of projects and founders in the industry are still focused on building infrastructure and tooling projects. In other words, the crypto industry is still in the phase where we primarily build for builders. And when compared to the web2 world, we have only just begun to explore the potential of building blockchain native and actually usable applications in web3.
Since they represent the entrance to a place of honor, glory, and happiness, the wallets are for the crypto newcomers what the gates of Valhalla are for the battle heroes, the beginning of eternal glory. (“ovo je bilo malo jako a?”)
Wallets already gained tremendous popularity and cemented themselves as a key functional piece of crypto utility. You cannot use crypto if you do not have a wallet. Therefore, wallets are gatekeepers to entering the world of crypto.
With the recent introduction of Account Abstraction that I talked about recently here, companies are now able to offer Wallet-as-a-Service to other companies, brands, and corporations, making it easy for them to launch their own wallet.
Up until now, it has been challenging for major companies like Nike, Starbucks, Budweiser, and others to onboard their users/consumers into the world of crypto due to limited education about it. This process often requires significant effort on their part, which is generally not ideal. However, with the introduction of Wallet-as-a-Service, these obstacles are effectively eliminated. By integrating wallets as an integral part of their business, these companies can seamlessly incorporate blockchain and cryptocurrency functionalities without their customers even realizing they are using them.
Some companies already offer Wallet-as-a-Service such as Coinbase and Safe. And there are others that offer amazing tools for developers utilizing the Account Abstraction model such as Biconomy, ThirdWeb, and many many others.
Big Big Brands
If we look at brands, Puma, Budweiser (beer.eth), Gucci, Coca-Cola, Tiffany, OnlyFans, NBA, and many others who bought their .eth name (see the full list here), all have hundreds of millions of users that are waiting to be onboarded. So it’s safe to say that we can expect mass adoption to happen through these brands taking full advantage of what blockchain has to offer. And you can bet your bottom dollar that these users won’t use 0x3Lk6…Pm3e but rather john.beer.eth or lisa.onlyfans.eth and so on.
For now, we can only speculate on how ENS names will be used by the big brands but one thing’s for certain - there will be no shortage of innovative and creative ways that these brands will use .eth names!
3. ENS community
ENS has become a popular protocol in the web3 space, and much of its success can be attributed to the ENS community. The community has played a revolutionary and pivotal role in the adoption and proliferation of ENS and no one can deny that! It was the community who created the hype and that in turn created a huge demand for .eth names that inevitably put them on the map as a lucrative and desirable asset to have as part of your identity.
One significant contribution of the ENS community has been the creation of various clubs and private communities centered around ENS. These communities have generated buzz and excitement around limited .eth names, leading to the creation of various collections such as the 999 club, 10k club, emoji collection, and so forth. The enthusiasm of the community members has added significant value to these collections making their floor price skyrocket.
Additionally, community members have taken the initiative to educate others about ENS through various platforms, including Twitter spaces. These spaces have become a popular platform for individuals to learn about ENS, hold live auctions to sell names, engage in conversations about the technology and meet amazing people and make friends. The efforts of the community have led to increased awareness and adoption of ENS among a wide range of crypto users.
Furthermore, there are a lot more interesting stories from the community such as - community members have gifted .eth names to their friends, family, and local stores, coffee shops, local businesses, etc. creating a grassroots movement that has helped ENS gain more widespread recognition!
ENS name traders deserve a special mention. Buyers, sellers, and flippers will play a crucial role in onboarding the next generation of users in the crypto space and ENS itself. These traders are motivated primarily by financial incentives and making a profit on minted names. Buying a name and reselling it at a higher price is a game played by the best in the industry since the first domain name service in web2 came out.
They are incentivized to buy valuable names early, hold them until the market demand increases, and then sell them at a profit. This behavior can lead to higher demand and adoption of ENS names, as more people become interested in trading them.
In addition to financial incentives, ENS name traders may be motivated by the sense of community that surrounds the technology. Many traders are passionate about ENS and want to help promote it to others. They may be involved in creating communities, organizing events, and providing education to newcomers. These efforts can help to onboard the next generation of users in the crypto space and promote the use of ENS names.
Strength in numbers! The power of the community should not be underestimated.
With that in mind, I strongly believe that the community is the lifeblood of every project in the web3 space. With this in mind, my team and I created Namespace with the simple thesis in mind - ENS community members will be the ones who will kickstart the mass adoption of .eth names. Let’s build for them and allow them to get the most value from their .eth names. Namespace honors ENS entrepreneurs! We are fully committed to providing this community with the best possible set of tools, features, pre-defined use cases, and resources for ENS brokers, entrepreneurs, resellers, traders, etc. to have the best resources at hand to onboard the next generation of users in crypto and equip them with web3 identity with ENS.
The ENS community has played a revolutionary and pivotal role in making ENS as popular as it is today. Their enthusiasm, dedication, and efforts to educate and spread the word about ENS have been instrumental in driving the adoption and growth of the technology in the web3 space.
4. ENS Builders
The strength, stability, and overall health of any chain or protocol is the ecosystem building on it and cementing its position as a de facto place to be for what you need. In the ENS case, the strength of the ecosystem and partnerships is extremely strong that it’s THE naming system for the entire web3 world.
I already wrote about Ecosystem Builders in one of my previous publications for the Namespace which you can find here.
There are several projects that leverage the powerful properties of ENS such as messaging, domains, identity, naming system, etc. I believe these projects will either attract a significant number of new ENS users or serve as a blueprint for others to follow due to the innovation and creativity they brought to the playing field. These projects have the potential to demonstrate the value of ENS to a wider audience and inspire others to explore its capabilities.
Some worthy mentions include:
ENS Vision: OGs in the ENS space who have played a significant role in attracting and enabling the trading experience of ENS names. They enable users to discover and trade ENS names via an extensive categorization of listings.
NftyChat: Created by the Lead Ecosystem Working Group Steward - Slobo.eth, NftyChat is a native web3 chat app that offers direct messaging with friends, community creation, token-gated access, and community discovery.
1W3: No-code website builder using .eth domains. A one-stop solution to design, build and publish a native web3site on IPFS or Arweave. Helps you create a censorship-resistant website from predefined templates in minutes. Pretty awesome!
ETH Limo: A privacy-preserving ENS gateway for resolving Ethereum Name Service (ENS) records and associated IPFS/IPNS/Skynet content. LIMO allows users and dApp developers to effortlessly access and host static sites built with a combination of IPFS/IPNS/Skynet and ENS.
Org3: An ENS-subdomain-based organization management tool built for communities and DAOs built by Julieshi.eth.
ENS Maxis: The very first PFP NFT collection in the ENS community. In the true spirit of ENS, Maxis is a no royalties collection - a rarity for a PFP project. PFP collections will play a crucial role in using them as subnames for their community members.
.earth: A pioneering collection built on top of ENS through .eth name in combination with subnames. The new NameWrapper contract will unlock even more powerful features for collections.
Unruggable Labs: Recently created and led by the gigabrain himself Premm.eth who is a core contributor and has brought many innovations to the ENS protocol over the years. Unruggable Labs is bringing unruggble subname rentals.
Web3Domains: A web3 publication dedicated to ENS, on-chain Identity, decentralized domains, and websites, and is led by one of the biggest and most prolific advocates and delegates of ENS - GaryPalmerJr.eth.
Namespace: (shameless plug ) Wallet identity management platform for businesses and individuals, providing ENS name owners tools and features to get the most out of their .eth names for them and their community.
5. ENS Labs
The ENS Labs OG team has already done so much for the broader Ethereum ecosystem and is yet poised to play a critical role in onboarding the next billion users to the world of crypto through ENS.
There are many different ways that the team is making strides in furthering ENS as the official naming system for every digital resource in web3.
Let’s go over a few of those:
These campaigns will aim to demystify the often complex world of blockchain and crypto, making it more accessible to everyday users. By providing clear and concise explanations of the benefits and functionalities of ENS, the team hopes to encourage more people to adopt the platform.
The community itself is already doing an amazing job by writing articles, publishing guides, recording tutorials, and hosting Twitter spaces, podcasts, and interviews, and will continue to do so. And the ENS DAO has done a good job of identifying and supporting the ones that are making an effort and will continue to do so.
Marketing campaigns will also play a big role in onboarding new users. The team plans to leverage various marketing channels to raise awareness of ENS and its benefits. By highlighting the unique features of ENS and its ease of use, the team hopes to attract new users from a wide range of backgrounds and industries.
So far, the campaign led by Khori.eth and the team behind FTF, has yielded some amazing results. A lot of prestigious publications have talked about ENS, and the team has attended lots of interviews and podcasts with industry leaders and participated in IRL events.
ENS Manager Dapp
In addition to marketing and education, the team will maintain its focus on improving the ENS manager app. This app serves as a central hub for users to register and manage their ENS names, and ENS Labs will continue to add more features and functionalities to make it even more user-friendly and comprehensive.
Making more partnerships is another important aspect of the plan. By collaborating with other projects and platforms in the crypto space, and integrating ENS, we can expand the reach of ENS and introduce it to new audiences. These partnerships can also lead to new use cases for ENS, further solidifying its position as a versatile and valuable naming system.
Gassless DNS integration
The team is also working on Gasless DNS integration, which will enable web2 companies and big brands to easily transition into the web3 space. This integration will make it easier for existing brands to adopt ENS names, integrated it, and use all its capabilities for their community, loyalty programs, gated access, memberships, or anything else and promote broader use and adoption.
Improving and upgrading ENS overall
One exciting development on the horizon is the extension of ENS names to other L2 chains. By expanding ENS to other chains, users can enjoy the benefits of ENS across multiple platforms and ecosystems. This will also help to further popularize ENS and improve its usability and use cases as the gas prices will be significantly lower.
6. Metaverse and Gaming
As the world of Gaming and Metaverse moves towards the decentralized future, there is no doubt that ENS will play a significant role in providing a web3 identity for gamers and their digital assets. This is important because a web3 identity is necessary for users to fully participate in these environments and to securely own and trade digital assets on the open market.
In addition to establishing an identity for users, ENS will also be used to provide unique names for every digital asset in every metaverse that will eventually be open and compatible with each other. These assets, such as in-game items or virtual real estate, will be publicly tradable on the open market, and having a unique name is essential for tracking ownership and facilitating transactions.
No one knows what the future holds with a great degree of certainty, but some use cases have emerged and have been tested already. One such example is dcl.eth names provided by Decentraland. Decentraland is a Metaverse project that upon signing up and registering you are immediately offered to claim a free web3 identity (username) such as a cap.dcl.eth that will be used for the in-game experience.
We are yet to witness the full potential of web3 games and one open Metaverse that everyone can be part of and enjoy. And even though no one can know for sure what role ENS will play, besides stated above, I’m still pretty sure it will be a naming system of choice for everyone in the space.
7. Decentralized Websites
There are significant differences between a standard web2 domain and an ENS domain. While a web2 domain is simply an address that points to a website, an ENS domain is a powerful tool that enables a wide range of use cases and offers a superior experience in several important ways.
The superiority of ENS domains over Web2 domains
First and foremost, ENS domains are censorship resistant. Unlike a traditional domain, which can be seized or taken down by governments or other centralized authorities, an ENS domain is secured by the decentralized Ethereum blockchain. This means that the domain is owned and controlled by the person who holds the private key, making it virtually impossible for anyone to take it down or restrict access.
Furthermore, ENS domains can serve not only as a website address but also as a wallet identifier. This means that users can send and receive cryptocurrency using their ENS domain, eliminating the need to remember long and complex wallet addresses.
Additionally, ENS domains can function as a user's web3 identity, making it easier for users to authenticate and access decentralized applications and services. With that, users will be in control of their own data and decide who they want to share it with, for how long, and possibly even get paid for it.
In terms of other key features, ENS domains are highly customizable, allowing users to add metadata, text records, and add other information to their domain. This can include social media profiles, contact information, and more.
The results vary depending on the source whenever I want to find out how many websites in total are out there in this whole wide world of ours. But they all converge around the same numbers; 1.5M websites and around 360M domains registered.
For comparison, there are only 2.8M ENS domains and 690k domain owners, and currently, only 20k decentralized websites are live. And we’ve already gone over whose more superior and who overs more utility.
There will definitely be a necessity for decentralized and censorship-resistant websites with the future we are heading towards.
The birth of ENS decentralized websites and domains has revolutionized the way we interact with the internet. And we’ve only scratched the surface. By highlighting the differences between traditional web2 domains and ENS domains, it becomes clear that ENS domains offer superior functionality, security, and a lot more utility. As we embrace the decentralized future, ENS domains will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the way we navigate, transact, and identify ourselves in the digital world.
8. Decentralized Social Networks
I’m almost tempted to leave this empty because it’s so obvious how .eth names are connected with social media but let me say a few things.
The power of social media lies in its ability to connect people, and ENS is uniquely positioned to enhance this connection by providing a decentralized naming system for individuals. Unlike traditional social media handles, ENS names are censorship-resistant and can be used not only as an identifier but also as a wallet address and web3 identity.
The ENS community has been advocating hard and spamming Elon left and right to integrate ENS with Twitter and allow people to create and login into accounts by Signing in with Ethereum. He’ll come around eventually.
Social media is designed to highlight individuals, and every person values their account name or @handle. With the emergence of decentralized social media platforms, our wallets will serve as our handles. It's unlikely that anyone would want to be identified by their wallet address, such as 0xR4k9...Df17. Instead, individuals will opt for ENS names like thecap.eth, alex.thegreat.eth, mark.arb, stani.lens, billy.avax, and more, as they provide a more user-friendly and personalized way of identifying oneself.
When it comes to social media, I believe that the entire movement will happen as soon as we figure out the on-chain identity puzzle around web3. The identity puzzle is composed of a lot of different things we need to solve where DIDs such as ENS are only one piece of it. I highly suggest a Bankless Episode with Wayne Chang to learn more about Identity.
Once certain platforms such as Lenster, Farcaster, Mastodon, Minds, or anyone else, gain significant traction, it will spread like wildfire. And the ENS will have already been integrated with them by then and offer a seamless and frictionless registering a (.eth) name (handle) experience. That is if they hadn’t registered one already. And if they had, they would only need to Sign-in-with-Ethereum and voila, their profile awaits along with all of their data already there and available and transferable across any other social media platform.
9. DNS managers - Domain name providers
ENS architecture is built to be compatible with DNS thus allowing a seamless transition between traditional web2 and web3 domains. It acts as an extension of traditional domain name service allowing anyone to expand their presence in the web3 space using their official domains. As a bridge to the web3 world, it is important for ENS to work well with DNS and ensure seamless integration between the two systems.
That said, there’s an ongoing effort and interest by the ENS team and the DAO, and its entire community, to establish an open line of negotiation with IANA and ICANN and discuss the potential of ENS (.eth domains) being included and accessible in the DNS registry and natively resolve in web browsers. I believe the ENS Labs team has already in communication with the said organizations but as any major and big decisions, things are moving slowly.
Nick on the ENS Discussion Forum about DNSSEC status
With gasless DNSSEC (which is relative close to release), domain registrars like GoDaddy and DNS managers like Cloudflare could theoretically make it a single click of a button for their users to import their existing DNS names into ENS, effectively crypto-enabling their existing DNS names. This would allow similar functionality to what you can get today when you import a DNS name into ENS, but it'll be completely gasless.- Greg from ENS Labs
Maybe I’m biased here, but it is highly likely that very soon .eth domains will become the first web3 domain system to be accepted in the DNS registry. When that happens, it will mark a significant milestone for the ENS and further cement its position as the leading decentralized naming system. This development is expected to lead to a surge in adoption and usage of .eth domains, as more people and businesses recognize the benefits of using it. This integration will significantly increase the accessibility and legitimacy of .eth domains, as well as generate interest and excitement from the broader tech community, creating a positive buzz for the ENS domain given it will be the first, and possibly for a very long time, the only web3 domain that works with DNS directly.
Who do you think will be the one to kickstart and drive mass adoption?
Did I forget someone?
If you think I did, let me know in my DMs on Twitter or Telegram @theCapHimself.
Or if you’d like to connect and talk anything about ENS, Namespace, or crypto in general, I’m just one DM away.
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