Who wins in a comparison between Unstoppable Domains and Ethereum Name Service, or ENS? To answer that question, we have to examine what these two rivals are. They are domain NFT projects, which create internet domains represented by NFTs. These are sometimes referred to as crypto domains, blockchain domains, or decentralized domains.
What makes a defi domain unique? Many things, including the ability to purchase a domain with a single payment and own it for life. That’s a big step forward from today’s GoDaddy.com type domain purchases, expirations, and domain renewals.
Not all domain NFT projects offer that option, but those that do make a very competitive bid for your domain purchases.
It should be noted that while both Unstoppable Domains and ENS are both domain NFT projects, they are not essentially the same services offered with different branding. Each project has aspects that make it unique; is an apples-to-apples comparison possible? We’ll examine the features of both projects below.
What does Unstoppable Domains offer? When you purchase a domain from this company you can use it as a login to the “decentralized web”, you can use it as your cryptocurrency address, and it has the potential to act as, in the words of Unstoppable Domains, your “universal username”.
This project assures its buyers that these domains are yours “in perpetuity” which is a statement to be generally wary of when you review such offers; a lifetime guarantee is only good as long as the company stays in business to fulfill those guarantees.
That aside, some of the potential offered by Unstoppable Domains is fairly tantalizing; the ability to use your domain as a combination of social media and crypto address at the same time–sending or receiving payments, messages, and more to a single address.
Unstoppable Domains Extensions
This project offers domains with .crypto for those on the Ethereum blockchain and .zil extensions for users on the Zilliqa blockchain. Other extensions may also be available including:
The project has partnered with or made its operations compatible with a variety of crypto wallets, apps, and exchanges including:
- Bitcoin.com Wallet
- Coinbase Wallet
- Rainbow Wallet
- Trust Wallet
- The Graph
Unstoppable Domains has been criticized for its very structure as a centralized, private company. By comparison, ENS (see below) is decentralized and is an open-protocol type operation rather than a private enterprise.
ENS was developed as a non-profit, and has no apparent aspirations to become a corporate entity. By comparison, one source claims Unstoppable Domains, “reserves well-known domains of famous people and corporations to prevent domain squatting.”
That may sound a bit dubious to some–almost as dubious as a guarantee in perpetuity. But this project does get high marks from some users for the service’s features that help translate complex crypto addresses to easier-to-remember domain names.
Ethereum Name Service (ENS)
ENS is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) without a centralized group of planners. Compared to Unstoppable Domains, ENS gets plenty of praise for being a not-for-profit type of organization and offering more realistic options (no “in-perpetuity” ownership promises, for example, see below) to choose from.
ENS features membership via an ENS token, which allows members to vote on how the DAO is operated. Voting rights in this particular case may extend to deciding on membership issues and administering the DAO overall.
ENS operates on .ETH and .LUKE extensions. This project is similar to Unstoppable Domains in multiple ways, but ENS does not offer a top-level domain. It behaves more like a DNS server in that ENS will translate a “website request” into an IP address and assign a server. You can buy an ENS domain and use it with a traditional dot-com, dot-org, etc.
What makes ENS different? Instead of the type of domain registry you might be used to when purchasing a domain, you will register your domain using a smart contract.
ENS domains are not offered in perpetuity; you will be required to renew periodically. To buy an ENS domain you must use an external cryptocurrency wallet. You can buy ENS domains with ETH and you will pay the usual fees for ETH transactions depending on time of day, demand, and other variables.
What To Know About Unstoppable Domains Vs. ENS
Some comparing these two options may gravitate toward ENS for “political” reasons; the decentralized and open-protocol nature of ENS may feel right to these users compared to the centralized and private company nature of Unstoppable Domains.
Some will choose Unstoppable because of the ease of use; the project has multiple apps compatible with it and some of those apps belong to major names in the crypto space such as OpenSea.io and Coinbase.
Others don’t care about the politics of the project; they want that ease of use or expanded compatibility. Whichever way you choose there are some important things to ask of the project you select.
How are the company or DAO promises fulfilled? How does Unstoppable pitch their “in perpetuity” offer and how enforceable is it? You may or may not care about the reality of such an offer but it is important to know whether the project you use to invest hard-earned cash into isn’t selling vapor.
Domain Expiration And Gas Fees
ENS requires you to pay for and renew a domain like a traditional domain name seller. It’s important to weigh the costs of buying a short-term plan rather than a long-term plan. One of the reasons for that? Gas fees.
How much will you pay above and beyond the cost of the domain itself in these fees and does it make more financial sense to pay for a longer registration period in light of those fees?
And for both projects, the gas fee issue is governed by the inherent costs of minting on that blockchain. It costs more to mint NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain (ENS) at press time than it does to mint NFTs on Polygon (Unstoppable Domains). This is another factor that may make some users consider rejecting ENS.
Unstoppable Domains offers you a forever domain, but in this early stage of the cryptocurrency industry, it’s impossible to know whether such promises are sustainable. Remember that there is precious little crypto regulation in the United States, but it is likely coming. How would a new set of federal laws interfere with the promise of a forever domain?
Only time will tell, but it’s smart to expect more restrictions rather than more freedoms when it comes to federal law.
And when talking about purchasing domains forever or not, it’s important to remember the value of certain domain names–if you are buying ENS or Unstoppable Domains it is good to know you could expect the future value of the domain to change depending on what it is and how viral it becomes.
Lest we forget, the domain Business.com sold for nearly eight million dollars in 1999, and LasVegas.com sold for a whopping $90 million in 2005. There’s a lot of potential money–crypto and fiat–involved with the right domains.
Blockchain-based domains are a very new industry and at press time there are some unanswered questions.
Will the average user be motivated to try setting up a website using a crypto domain? In these early days, the technical skills may require a steeper learning curve; it’s possible that more user-friendly user interfaces (think a crypto version of WordPress or a similar variant) could make that experience easier to manage in the future.
Will future regulations put a damper on projects like these? Some of the promises made could be the first to go under review (forever domains) when the regulatory scrutiny begins in earnest.
Joe Wallace has covered real estate and financial topics, including crypto and NFTs since 1995. His work has appeared on Veteran.com, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and many print and online publications. Joe is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.