Namecheap begins selling blockchain-based domain names

Namecheap is now offering 11 alt-root domains based on blockchain technology.

Logo for Handshake domains includes a stylized H and the word handshake

Namecheap has become the largest domain name registrar to begin offering blockchain-based domain names.

The company is offering a selection of 11 alt-root Handshake domain names: .p, .pgp, .sox, .elite, .ill, .saas, .creator, .oh, .oo, .oot, .orb. It says it plans to add more extensions in the future.

Handshake domain options show in regular Namecheap search results, and people can select a button on the search to see only Handshake domain names. The domains are labeled and include a tooltip to explain what they are:

Picture of Namecheap domain search results with Handshake domains

In a press release, Namecheap states:

Decentralizing the web creates a more egalitarian online space where technologies power the Internet community rather than a few stakeholders. Handshake represents a shift toward decentralization, with progressive steps that help to grant users less oversight, more freedom, and enhanced security.

While it’s true that Handshake is decentralized at the top level, the implementation looks an awful lot like a typical, ICANN-based TLD to customers. They are paying annual fees for Handshake domains purchased at Namecheap. The only difference is that web users can’t visit the domains unless they make technical changes to their browsers.

It’s a risky move for Namecheap. These domains don’t resolve like traditional domains. While Namecheap makes this clear, I can’t help but think that some customers will be confused. It also sets them up for future name collisions if any of these names are added to the main root.

Companies have offered alt-root domain names in the past. The domains eventually failed.

If you’re interested in Handshake, there’s an entire Handshake track every day during NamesCon this week.


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