As an increasing share of people buy their Web3 domain — like YourName.nft or YourName.eth — there is way more behind this trend than just bragging rights or a cool Twitter handle.
Web3 domains open up the possibility of creating a verifiable, and completely transferable, identity on the blockchain. Unlike your Instagram handle or your Gmail address which only holds data for that specific platform, your Web3 domain can be transferred to different platforms and services. And there is the added benefit that you own the data behind your domain as opposed to an outside company.
Despite this promise, the majority of people who are investing in their digital identity at this stage of Web3 are men. We spoke with Sandy Carter, SVP of Unstoppable Domains and Founding BFF, about why this needs to change and what she sees for the future of your identity on the Internet, in the metaverse and beyond.
Signups for Web3 and crypto domains are reaching all-time highs. What is behind this trend?
We believe this trend is catalyzed by a growing awareness of what Web3 domains can offer.
We’ve seen some folks in our community rally around certain Web3 domains in the belief that they will be worth more in the coming years. Many others use their domain as their digital identity — for example, they’ll update their Twitter name to their .nft or .crypto domain.
We believe people are buying into the utility behind Web3 domains and believe that in the future, everyone will have a persistent, user-owned identity on Web3.
The ability of Unstoppable domains to bring new and powerful benefits to users, and businesses, is the real draw. Unstoppable domains make it easy to own your identity and transact across the broader Web3 ecosystem.
What is the value of owning yourname.nft or yourname.crypto?
Unstoppable Domains give people a user-owned, secure, and portable identity for Web3, and they come with a whole range of benefits.
Unstoppable domains can be used to build your portable web3 identity. For instance, on your ud.me profile page, you can set an NFT you own as your web3 profile picture and verify and link your social profiles to your domain. You can earn and showcase badges for everything from gaming achievements, participation in DAOs, career milestones, and more. In the future, we envision people being able to attach a range of information to their Web3 domain, such as health data, professional credentials, and more – allowing them to share verified data in a privacy-focused way.
Then there’s the fact that Web3 domains can replace your lengthy crypto wallet addresses, removing the need to copy and paste long strings of numbers and letters. Instead, friends can send crypto to a human-readable name, like “sandy.nft” or something similar, which is much easier to remember.
Web3 domains also allow for hosting a website on the decentralized web that you fully own and control. Unstoppable domains can be accessible natively through Brave and Opera browsers, and through browser extensions on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
Finally, you can use your Unstoppable domain for privacy-first email. You can create a free @ud.me email address using your Unstoppable domain and set up forwarding to your private email address, so you can receive and reply to messages without ever revealing your primary email address. Alternatively, you can connect your domain with Skiff through our first email app integration, allowing you to use your @ud.me email address to send, receive, and reply to messages on an end-to-end encrypted, privacy-first platform.
For all of these reasons, Web3 domains make a portable reputation possible. They are the means to seamlessly access all of Web3 from a single, easy-to-manage product, making Web3 practical, accessible, and much safer to use.
How does owning your own digital identity via a domain shift what you are able to accomplish in Web3?
Web3 domains, and by extension, all data held in them, are literally in the hands of the user who owns them. No big tech firm, government, or anyone else, can alter, remove or even see the information unless granted explicit permission by the holder.
Owning the data in your ID will bring greater freedom and break the link that so many have with big tech subscriptions. Not only do the companies that provide current web2 services, like social media, own all the data entered into them, every user profile is siloed onto that platform. No matter how big you are on Instagram, none of that history carries over if you sign up for Twitter.
Web3 domains as IDs completely transform social media silos by allowing individuals to transfer their reputation and credentials seamlessly across different platforms and services, so they don’t have to start from scratch every time.
They can also change how people interact with things like shopping, entertainment, and advertising. Purchasing goods online, digital or physical, can be linked to your Web3 domain, which will also act as your wallet. All purchasing history will be preserved, but it will also be private.
Brands can also overhaul existing forms of promotion and engagement. Users can be rewarded for the ads they choose to watch. Collectible items can be offered that provide the holder with discounts, exclusive access, and other benefits. Then, mixing and matching collectibles could be designed into a gamification strategy that supports longer-term brand loyalty.
Web3 domains can also make it a lot easier to trust counterparties in a Web3 environment for businesses and individuals alike. Again, the owner can control what others can see, but everything they choose to share can be trusted as verifiable and tamper-proof. Payments can be irrevocably linked to the completion of a service or the delivery of goods, making it very difficult to defraud someone. Any past malicious activity can be tagged to a given profile, blacklisting them from participation or, at least, letting others know what they have done.
What are the biggest opportunities that crypto domains will unlock 5 or 10 years from now?
A portable reputation is the biggest opportunity because it can be used across many situations and scenarios.
Some of the most innovative opportunities made possible through Web3 domains haven’t even been thought of yet; we’re just getting our feet wet. That being said, a major one is the ability for billions worldwide to access financial services that they could never have done before.
True, this has always been the philosophy behind crypto, and we’ve seen some great work, but so much of DeFi is still so technical and unregulated that there’s a pretty high barrier to entry. Web3 domains help address this and make DeFi, and other Web3 services, much more usable and safe. They enable simple, human-readable addresses, unfalsifiable credentials for reputation, financial activity that is private and fraud-resistant, and multi-chain access across the whole of Web3 through seamless entry points.
Hence, in a decade, this could be the norm for everything from an individual buying a new product online to how people transfer funds across the globe. There’s almost no use case where Web3 domains can’t help.
BFF is focused on onboarding more women and non-binary people into Web3. Why is it important for more diverse communities to invest in their digital identities today?
It is essential because Web3 technology is for everyone, but right now, the majority of people who engage with it are men. We know people will want to experience the benefits Web3 offers, but women and non-binary people may feel ostracized if they come late to the game and have to find a way to fit into a male-centric world.
Furthermore, if Web3 tech isn’t built with diversity at the forefront, then there’s a dangerous possibility that many of the prejudices already present in our society will carry over into Web3. Facial recognition with a bias for fair skin, AI algorithms that don’t account for underrepresented races or genders, and applications that are not compatible with certain disabilities all need to be factored in and accounted for as this space is being developed.
Most importantly, diversity has to be a priority for anyone building the future of Web3. We know, for example, that women account for just 25% of those working in tech occupations and that this proportion declined between 2000 and 2016, just as the tech industry was booming. We can’t let that be the case in Web3, which is one of the reasons we’re so passionate about our Unstoppable Women of Web3 education initiative.
It’s also important to remember that claiming a Web3 domain and placing a Web3 footprint today will make diversity more achievable tomorrow. We don’t want this new digital frontier just to be a copy of what Web1 and 2 looked like; this is our chance to do things differently.
Unstoppable Domains is an onramp to Web3 for all. But we are not alone in this mission to ensure that the next generation of the internet is inclusive for all. We founded Unstoppable Women of Web3 (WoW3) with 140 companies, including BFF, to ensure we have the education from companies to make Web3 inclusive for all.
This is not financial advice. If you don't want to spend money investing in crypto or Web3 — you don’t have to. The intent of this article is to help others educate themselves and learn.
Caroline Fairchild is Editor in Chief at BFF