To understand all about Metaverse and alternative domain names

Metaverse and alternative domain names

The word “Metaverse” refers to everything related to virtual worlds (3D, augmented reality, virtual reality), and designates a “future” vision of the Internet, with fictive spaces such as stores, rooms or even games. It’s a bit of a buzzword of the moment, which was put forward by Facebook in October 2021, when it announced the creation of a metaverse (Meta). There is of course a trend effect, however several major brands seem to be working on the subject.

Many projects have used the term “Metaverse” around their services and products. There are projects related to digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs, which allow the representation and exchange of value on the Internet. But also alternative domain names, like .eth, .crypto, .metaverse, etc. It’s also related to the concept of “web3”, which is a vision of a more decentralized web.

Regarding the alternative domain names, you have to know that they are extensions that are not regulated by ICANN, so they are not official. This explains why it is not possible to have WHOIS information. Furthermore, most alternative domain names systems do not work with the DNS protocol, but are built on a Blockchain infrastructure.

Here are some examples:

ENS (Ethereum Name Service): .ETH

ENS is one of the most used alternative domain name systems with .ETH. It is built on the Ethereum blockchain, through smart contracts, and allows to register domain names in order to link addresses of crypto wallets, websites or any other type of registration. A domain name can be registered for several years, and there are no domain name recovery procedures for trademark holders, as it is a decentralized project: the holder of an .ETH domain name is the only one who can control it.

The registration procedure is done through the use of an Ethereum wallet, and the payment with the ether cryptocurrency ($ETH).

ENS also allows traditional domain names holders to register their domain names on their system.

Unstoppable Domains: .CRYPTO, .ZIL, .COIN, .WALLET, .BITCOIN, .X, .888, .NFT, .DAO, .BLOCKCHAIN

This is also a domain names system developed on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows, like ENS, to register domain names with different extensions. Unstoppable Domains do not expire and do not need to be renewed. There is, however, a procedure for trademark holders.


This is a project that allows the creation of all kinds of top-level extensions. It is built on the HNS blockchain.

Namecoin: .BIT

One of the first alternative domain names project on Blockchain.

Touchcast: .METAVERSE

This is a recent project that offers .METAVERSE domain names for sale. There is not much technical information about their system, and their community seems to be quite limited compared to their number of followers on social networks.

Other alternative domain names projects have also emerged. It is important to know that anyone can create an extension not regulated by ICANN.

For users, it is necessary to use another means than a classic DNS resolver to use these extensions (browser extensions, dedicated applications, etc.).

As expected, there is a lot of speculation and cybersquatting related to this type of domain names.

Image source : xresch via Pixabay

DNS on Blockchain: the next evolution of domain names?

DNS on Blockchain - Nameshield
Image source: TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay


The DNS, the Domain Name System, is a service at the heart of how the Internet operates. It is fundamental to the functioning of many services such as websites, mail servers, VoIP telephony and many others.

For more than 30 years, many extensions and functionalities have been added to the DNS, which technically translates into an increase in the complexity of the infrastructure.

The Blockchain technology could be a considerable evolution for DNS, bringing several advantages and new functionalities.

The DNS, a fundamental service

The DNS, the Domain Name System, is a service at the heart of how the Internet operates. It functions as a public directory that associates domain names with resources on the Internet, such as IP addresses. When a user enters an address in his browser, a DNS server translates this humanly understandable address into an IP address that is understandable by computers and networks. This is DNS resolution.

DNS - DNS on Blockchain - Nameshield

This system, created in 1983, is fundamental to the functioning of many services such as websites, mail servers, VoIP telephony and many others. It is constantly evolving to meet ever-increasing needs in terms of functionality and security. Indeed, the DNS must guarantee:

  • Availability: an unavailability of the DNS service would result in a service disruption.
  • Integrity: the data present on the DNS (associated with a domain name) must not be corrupted.
  • Confidentiality: to protect the privacy of users, the DNS implements various solutions that increase the confidentiality of DNS requests. If the requests are not confidential, it is possible to analyze users’ browsing information.

The domain name system is based on a centralized model of trust. It is distributed throughout the world and managed by different actors in a hierarchical manner, in several levels; a root level, a first level where extensions are managed by registries, then a second level managed by registrars. The whole thing is orchestrated by ICANN, the Internet’s regulatory authority.

Domain names - DNS on Blockchain - Nameshield

For more than 30 years, many extensions and functionalities have been added to the DNS, which technically translates into an increase in the complexity of the infrastructure.

Blockchain technology could be a considerable evolution for DNS, bringing several advantages and new functionalities.

Blockchain and decentralized registry

A Blockchain is a data structure accessible to all and distributed over a decentralized network; the data is replicated on each node of the network, there is no central authority. Everyone has the possibility to read its contents, add data and even join the network. The concept was first implemented in 2009 with Bitcoin, but today there are many different Blockchain technologies, each with their own properties.

The data is entered on a Blockchain via transactions. The transactions are grouped into blocks, each block is then validated by the network and then brought together. Thus, a Blockchain contains the history of all the transactions carried out since its creation.

The validation rules are written in the Blockchain protocol, which each member of the network respects. To ensure compliance with its rules, the Blockchain protocols are based on consensus algorithms, the best known being the Proof of Work. These algorithms guarantee the integrity, immutability and security of the data on the Blockchain.

Blockchain - DNS on Blockchain - Nameshield

The Blockchain technology meets several DNS needs:

  • Availability: a decentralized, peer-to-peer network cannot be stopped. It could replace or complement Anycast infrastructures. 
  • Integrity: the consensus protocol of a Blockchain guarantees, by nature, the integrity of the data. Furthermore, the data cannot be modified. These properties would eliminate the need for DNSSEC and its famous key renewal ceremony.
  • Confidentiality: Requests made to read the Blockchain data can be encapsulated in an HTTPS channel in the same way as the DNS over HTTPS (DoH) protocol. There are few DoH resolvers today, so traffic is centralized around a limited number of actors. The use of a Blockchain would offer the possibility of querying any node on the network, thus limiting centralization and SPF (single point of failure).

The data included in the DNS zone files, i.e. the domain name configurations, could therefore be distributed on a Blockchain. Each player (registries, registrars) could directly interact with this Blockchain to manage the domain names. This is the idea of the DNS on Blockchain.

New needs

In recent years, with the emergence of Blockchain technologies, new means of values exchange have developed, particularly with tokenization, crypto-assets and decentralized applications (dapps); we talk about Web 3.0, or the Internet of Value.

Values exchange - DNS on Blockchain - Nameshield

Digital wallets and decentralized applications work with identifiers that are difficult to read, e.g. 0x483add28edbd9f83fb5db0289c7ed48c83f55982 for a wallet address.

Being able to associate this type of address with domain names, within a universal naming system, could be of real interest for tomorrow’s Web applications. It would be possible to have a wallet of crypto-assets or a decentralized application configured directly behind a domain name. This could also be useful for the digital identity of companies and their brands.

DNS on Blockchain, today

Many naming system projects on Blockchain are currently under development, each with an implementation of its own.

Some applications propose new domain names extensions (TLDs), such as .bit, .zil, .crypto, .eth, etc. This is particularly the case for Namecoin and UnstoppableDomains. These systems are completely independent of the traditional DNS and ICANN. Registration is managed directly by users, and names resolution is generally done through a browser extension. The Opera browser has recently natively integrated the resolution of these domain names.

These applications are functional and the names registration is not controlled. There are therefore many cases of cybersquatting. Users register names in the hope of reselling them and making a profit. This obviously poses a problem for trademark owners, and will certainly prevent the adoption of these solutions by companies.

DNS on Blockchain - Nameshield

Other projects propose complementary solutions to DNS. In particular, Ethereum Name Service (ENS) offers a names system on Blockchain that integrates with the traditional DNS. If you are the holder of a domain name and can prove it with a DNSSEC registration, you can then register this same name on the Blockchain service. This allows you to combine the advantages of traditional DNS and DNS on Blockchain.

The .kred, .xyz and .luxe extensions already support this integration on Blockchain, and ENS plans to propose it for all DNSSEC-compatible extensions. This project is quite promising, Ethereum Name Service has recently joined the DNS-OARC (DNS Operations, Analysis, and Research Center).

The Handshake project proposes a naming protocol to manage the root level of the DNS, and provide an alternative to certification authorities. It challenges the trust and governance model of the DNS to experiment with a more decentralized, secure and resilient system based on validation of DNS zones by participants in the network.


The DNS on Blockchain could be a considerable evolution of the DNS; it would bring several advantages and new functionalities thanks to the Blockchain technology, which would benefit the development of the decentralized web.

Today, however, there are still no technologies and applications on which there is unanimous agreement, even though many projects and PoC are under development. They are not yet mature enough to be used on a large scale. Improvements in terms of scalability, security and usability need to be made.

The collaboration of the Internet players (ICANN, DNS-OARC, registries) seems essential for a technology to reach consensus and be adopted, in particular to set common rules. This is a subject to be followed closely over the next few years.

Are you interested in blockchain and crypto-assets topics? Don’t hesitate to consult the website of our collaborator Steve Despres:

The blockchain at the service of domain names

The blockchain at the service of domain names
Photo’s author : Ethereum – Source :

The case of Ethereum foundation and the «.ETH » extension.

Ethereum is a foundation created during 2015, by Vitalik Buterin, a 21 years old Canadian. This foundation aims to promote the Ethereum blockchain technology, created by this young computer engineer, who proposes in addition to a virtual currency, like the Bitcoin blockchain, the possibility to create applications ensuring traceability, inviolability and sustainability of the transactions they manage. To allow to the greatest number of people to access to these applications, the Ethereum foundation has recently presented the ENS for «Ethereum Name Service», and its corollary, the «.ETH» extension.

Back to the Blockchain technology

For the record, the concept of blockchain, can be defined as being « a technology of storage and transmission of information, transparent, secured and operating without a central review body » (source:

Thus, if we take the example of the Bitcoin blockchain, the purpose was to create a virtual currency. The major interest consists in the absence of any central regulatory body, since it is controlled and managed by the community members, in a fully decentralized way. Any transaction done on the blockchain leads to an inscription in a block, published on a registry shared between the members. The transactions’ inscription in a block is carried out by « miners », who check, register and secure the transactions in the blockchain. This database hence lists all the transactions in blocks, creating a blocks chain supposed to be immutable and inviolable, due to the use of electronic signatures, and redistributed on the network, since it is decentralized.

Ethereum blockchain also has its currency, namely the Ether. But unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum didn’t create a virtual currency but has extended the use of the blockchain to other applications: the «smart contracts». Thus, Ether must not be considered as a currency but rather as a consumable allowing to exchange on the blockchain, use the applications it hosts.

The « smart contracts » concept

Ethereum proposes many possibilities of decentralized applications usable on its blockchain. These smart contracts are defined by the Blockchain France website as being « autonomous programs, which once started, automatically execute predefined conditions. They operate as any conditional instruction of « if – then » type (if such condition is verified, then such consequence is executed) ».

Concretely, this is a decentralized application, developed according to the Ethereum programming language (the Solidity), which automatically executes predefined instructions, on the conditions that the requirements are met, without the assistance of a third party, and ensuring that no modification is possible. These programs are executed on the Ethereum blockchain and controlled and certified by its members.

Thus, the promise is to delete intermediaries thanks to the total decentralization, managed by the processes automation.

For example, among possible applications, Ethereum foundation has announced on May 4th 2017, the creation of Ethereum Name Service, allowing domain names registration using «.ETH » extension.

Names’ registration in «.ETH »

The Ethereum Name Service, or ENS, corresponds to the Internet DNS, managed by ICANN, but unlike the latter, ENS is not based on root servers, but on the multitude of servers/machines, members of the Ethereum blockchain.

This is not a new registry having created another extension, but rather an alternative notion of the Internet.

Indeed, ENS is neither attached to the Global DNS, or to the IANA organization, nor to ICANN. ENS is a naming system specific to the Ethereum blockchain.

Domain name registration using «.ETH » is operating in a different way than classic domain name registration. This is a bidding system by anonymous deposit of a number of Ethers. In short, the name request opens a 72 hours period allowing other persons to bid. A second period of 48 hours then opens, during this period, each bidder must disclose their bid. The best bidder wins the name registration and is refund of their bid, minus the value corresponding to the difference of amounts between the two best bids. These funds are kept in a contract during 1 year minimum and can be removed at the end of this period, subject to release the name. If the name is the subject of one bid only, the bid’s winner is refund of the invested Ethers, except 0.01 Ether, corresponding to the minimum bid. This system should allow according to the ENS developers to prevent from speculation on domain names registration.

The system then doesn’t need an authority like ICANN, since the names ‘attribution is automated thanks to an IT program distributed and secured on the blockchain.

Nevertheless, if you type a domain name in «.ETH » in your browser search field, like Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox, an error page will be displayed. Indeed, the registered names in «.ETH » are not recognized by these browsers, since they aren’t part of the DNS network, they aren’t recognized as a domain name. Google Chrome extensions are proposed to create a bridge between the « web Ethereum » and the Internet that we know.

Hence, essentially, names currently registered in «.ETH » are only usable on the Ethereum blockchain, and therefore don’t affect the general public.

Lastly, the first use of ENS is, like the DNS, to allow the user to read and remember more easily an address by giving it a meaning. The DNS allows to translate an IP address in a legible address via the domain name.

Thus, ENS allows to translate an Ethereum user’s address (a user portfolio) of type «f14955b6f701a4bfd422dcc324cf1f4b5a466265 » in « myfirstname.eth ».

For example, when a user wishes to send Ether to another user, they only have to know their domain name and not their user address anymore. These domain names have a quite limited use, but may thereafter be used to access to future Ethereum applications.

The risks of the «.ETH » for brands owners

To this day, current web browsers don’t support these extensions, it seems that brands owners have no need to worry.

However, many French and international brands are « cybersquatted ». I.e. Ethereum users have won bids on brands names like « samsung.eth » or « volkswagen.eth ». They take over the name’s ownership for one year.

At the end of this first year of registration, the owners may release these names to retrieve the Ether stock associated to the name.

Risks should not be excluded in a near future if the «.ETH » are led to become more common and to offer interesting uses for the general public. Under this hypothesis, current web browsers could natively integrate «.ETH », in the same way as «.COM » or «.XYZ ».

Therefore, the owners of «.ETH » taking registered trademarks, for example may seek to benefit from this registration by using the reputation or identity of these protected brands, in order to divert the traffic to their own products or services. It may also be competitors seeking to tarnish their competitor’s brand image.

In the ICANN system, the rules enacted, in particular with UDRP procedures, propose to overcome these risks afterwards by allowing brands owners to try to recover a domain name using unjustly their brand. The restrictive nature of these rules, accepted and respected by registration offices, facilitates the application of the decision of Arbitration Center experts, and thus a domain name transfer to their rightful owner.

In the ENS system, there is no central authority which could enact these rules. Furthermore, domain names in «.ETH » have no real Whois file. To register such a domain name, they need to have Ethers and to create a portfolio. The identity is concealed behind a characters sequence, i.e. the digital impression of a cryptographic key. Therefore, it seems difficult to know the real identity of an owner in «.ETH ».

Furthermore, unlike the current system, it seems difficult to justify a territorial competence for «.ETH». The blockchain is not linked to any territory, it is distributed on all its members ‘machines, and thus all around the world.

The solution could eventually be developed by the Ethereum users themselves. It’s not to be excluded that an application is created in order to check the legitimacy of a domain name owner, on the basis of criteria defined in a program, like for example, the risk of confusion regarding a preexisting brand, and the good faith criteria in the use made of them. The constitution of a «popular jury » with voting materials would allow to decide on the issue as the result of a complaint from another member.