What are Bitcoin Usernames?

November 21, 2022
7 min
BNS btc.us website to claim Bitcoin domains

Think .com, but for Web3. Similar to social handles, .btc allows owners to claim and own a unique Web3 identity.

During the first week of November 2022, the surge in transaction volume for Bitcoin usernames with .btc reportedly shot up to 260%. What are these decentralized identities? Think .com, but for Web3. In the early days of the internet, users had to enter a long and complicated IP address to reach a website. Then Domain Name Service (DNS) came along, which was a naming system that allowed users to type in a human-readable text string ending in .com to access their favorite websites. In the same way that DNS made the Internet more user-friendly, Bitcoin Name System (BNS aka .btc) stands to do the same for the world of Web3.

Source: Messari

What are Bitcoin usernames (BNS)?

BNS is short for Bitcoin Name Space or Bitcoin Naming System, with .btc being a user-owned, blockchain-powered version of Web 2.0’s DNS. If you’ve been in the DeFi space for a while, you’ll recognize that BNS is comparable to the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), but where ENS is Ethereum-based, BNS is Bitcoin-based usernames.

BNS is the driving engine for .btc, a decentralized Web3 domain name system secured on the Bitcoin blockchain and registered by Stacks, a Bitcoin layer. And where DNS is the universal phone book for the internet, BNS currently functions as the universal phone book for decentralized currencies and Web3 applications.

How do Bitcoin usernames work?

To better understand the significance of BNS, think about the role DNS plays in Web 2.0 navigation. Whenever you type in a .com domain name, like www.google.com, your browser can identify the IP address and directs you to the correct webpage. In much the same way, BNS takes machine-readable sequences, like a wallet address, and transforms them into a simplified, human-readable format.

This human-readable .btc domain serves a myriad of purposes, the first and most obvious being your decentralized identity. Similar to social handles, .btc allows owners to claim and own a unique Web3 identity and is an excellent alternative to the lengthy 34-letter or number wallet address we’ve come to know.

This feeds into the second point, which is the ease of payments. Instead of using a long, clunky wallet address, you simply use your .btc domain name to send and receive payments. This simplifies the transaction process while significantly improving the overall user experience for Bitcoin and crypto.

Then, there are also BNS’ seamless login capabilities. Think about how easy it is to log into a site by selecting Google or Facebook login integrations. This is exactly what BNS does for Web3 applications, except that it’s not censorable, no single company can block or delete your identity, and you own your data.

In addition to simplifying payment processes, managing your Web3 accounts including your wallet address, functioning as a log-in to the decentralized web, and serving as your universal username, BNS also improves censorship resistance. Because it’s one of the most decentralized, secure, and trusted settlement layers for assets, all .btc domain names are built on and powered by the Bitcoin blockchain.

What are use cases for Bitcoin usernames?

It’s still early days for BNS with Bitcoin name transaction volumes (including BNS and ENS) likely to come in at under $200M in 2022 at the current rate. However, when you consider that the primary and secondary market transaction volume for the DNS reached $4.5B in 2021, BNS may still have ample room to grow. BNS is currently the most popular contract in the STX ecosystem and holds immense value, especially for branding. Odds are big brands will want to claim their own .btc domains for receiving payments which hold the potential for a branded domain gold rush just like the early days of .com. Dare we say Nike.btc, Disney.btc, or even Apple.btc?

With the addition of the BNS to the space, blockchain technology is continuously becoming more streamlined and user-friendly. Similar to .com domain names, by claiming .btc domains early, you may be able to find valuable domains for both personal and professional use with this new utility-driven DeFi product. One that takes a giant step toward mainstream blockchain adoption. 

To learn more about BNS and BTC domains, check out our ".btc Bull Case" episode on the Own Your Crypto podcast with special episode guests Nick Sainato and Jamil Dhanani from Gamma and BNS trader & digits enthusiast ΞxitLiquidity.

Published in
Decentralized Identities
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