A company building blockchain-based domain names has struck a partnership with the Opera internet browser.
Unstoppable Domains allows decentralized websites to be created using the .crypto extension—a modern alternative to .com, .org, .gov and the rest of the world wide web’s domain names.
Conventional websites are part of the official Domain Name System (DNS,) meaning website names are often owned by registration companies such as GoDaddy rather than the businesses that actually use them.
In a different approach, Unstoppable Domains are stored in a wallet by the owner, while the decentralized websites they connect to are stored on peer-to-peer networks. It also makes .crypto websites “uncensorable”
Another serious concern about the current DNS model was raised in November, when the non-profit that controls .org announced plans to sell it to a private equity firm, raising concerns about price gouging—and howls of outrage.
The Opera partnership
Through the agreement, an estimated 80 million people who use Opera browsers on Android devices will be given access to decentralized websites for the first time. The experience is said to be similar to typing in a .com domain, and it could open up cryptocurrency payments to a broader cross-section of consumers.
According to Unstoppable Domains, this is the first time a major browser has backed a domain system outside of DNS—a milestone that it interprets as “a shift away from the current centralized systems and toward decentralized systems.”
It is worth noting that while well-regarded, according to W3Counter, Opera only has a 2.7% share of the browser market—half that of its nearest competitor Firefox. Microsoft’s Edge, Internet Explorer, and Safari are neck and neck with about 13%, while Chrome has the lion’s share of users at 58%.
Nonetheless, Unstoppable Domains co-founder Bradley Kam believes that tools such as Ethereum and the InterPlanetary File System have the potential to create a better internet than what’s existed for the past 35 years or so. He claims more than 200,000 blockchain domain names have been registered by the company to date.
“It’s just beginning, but this system could replace the old internet entirely,” Kam said. “Our partnership with Opera means that users can now view a .crypto website just as easily as a .com website.”
The integration is now live on Opera’s Android mobile app.
Blockchain and browsers
This isn’t the first time that Opera has dabbled in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The platform has been an aggressive supporter of the so-called “Web 3.0”—and in December 2018, a built-in crypto wallet was added to its Android browser. When the feature was being tested, the company had expressed hope that this would help cryptocurrencies move “from speculation and investment to being used for actual payments and transactions.”
In October last year, Opera announced that it was enabling its users to send and receive Bitcoin payments directly from their browsers.
Of course, other browser providers have also been taking on big tech—harnessing blockchain and crypto to help shield the privacy of users when they are surfing the web. Brave allows users to opt into viewing adverts, and they are rewarded with cryptocurrency called the Basic Attention Token (BAT) if they do. The company claims that its approach also means that browsing speeds are three to six times fast than what’s offered by more established rivals.
As of the end of November, Brave said it had 10.4 million monthly active users, as well as 340,000 creators who receive remuneration for their content. One BAT currently costs $0.1415—some way off the highs of $0.49 seen in the past 12 months.