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A Bull By Any Other Name: Why ENS Is Flourishing Despite Bear Market Conditions

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Hannah Scherwatzky/ENS

The Ethereum Name Service rose to prominence this summer as one of the top traded NFT collections on Ethereum. A follow up to the Foreign Language ENS Names themed article from early July, this article features recent highlights & news, the latest updates about the ENS space as a whole, and follow ups on previously featured clubs and topics.

Matt Higgins, the co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures, has frequently appeared on the hit show Shark Tank since 2018. He recently purchased 917.eth, the New York area code for the city’s 5 boroughs. The trade was brokered by Gweiman.eth and used the ENS.Vision platform. 

917.eth was purchased for just under 37Ξ and is part of the 999 Club, which is the #2 all time ENS club by volume with over 10,500Ξ traded. With a robust protocol behind it, ENS is positioned to continue hosting successful clubs that can draw in notable personalities from throughout the world. Area codes, zip codes, and matching the serial number of your PFP with ENS digits are all strong use cases for the ENS product.

Another user, 👨‍🦲.eth, has accounted for 1250Ξ volume on ENS.Vision, sweeping up 999, 10k club and emoji domains, known as Ethmoji.

The current top 10 ENS clubs by volume as of 9/19:

PHOTO 1 ENS VISION TOP 10 PHOTO
ENS vision

ENS in the News

Fractional tokens representing baskets of 999 club and 10k club ENS domains are now available to trade on Kucoin, allowing users to speculate on the value of ENS domains without holding the actual NFTs in their wallets. 

Mal.io, a Middle East based exchange that recently received seed round funding from Huobi, launched a similar token, but backed by Arabic 999 and 10k Arabic ENS domains.

Earlier this month, Vitalik Buterin chimed in on ENS, ruminating about the fact that many of the grails have already been minted and brainstorming solutions for domain squatting. The eth.link site, used by ENS domain holders to host decentralized websites, was also sold by GoDaddy, resulting in a lawsuit to recover the domain. The domain has since been recovered and is back online as of 9/19.

Coinbase wallet recently partnered with ENS, launching a new option for wallet users to claim a free Coinbase branded subdomain. On September 9th, OpenSea added the 999, 10k and 100k digit clubs, paving the way for additional clubs to be added.

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS IN ENS

  1. The official ENS subdomain wrapper testnet is expected to release before the end of the month. Subdomains allow users to mint additional ENS names under their primary domains. Several non-official subdomain services already exist, such as esf.tools

Subdomain example: hydrate.one37.eth

Projects have the potential to issue subdomains as a utility for their members, and projects such as Purrnelopes Country Club have already begun issuing subdomains for their community. More recently, notable security expert 0xQuit began issuing q00t subdomains using the same tech pioneered by hodl.pcc.eth.

  1. Normalization is coming up, which means a definitive decision on what characters are permitted in ENS domains and which ones are not. The ENS DAO has a comprehensive thread of discussions regarding the topic. Some of the script duplication issues will be fixed, including the Extended Arabic Unicode 08A0–08FF, a variant of the correct Arabic digit Unicode, which will be mapped to the correct Arabic-Indic Digit Unicodes U+0600 to U+06FF. Users can check if their domains fit the most updated criteria by searching them at ENS developer Raffy’s testnet site. 

THE RISE OF ENS VISION

Founded in March of this year, ENS.Vision has risen to prominence as a competitive marketplace for the trading and analysis of ENS domains. The site boasts a 1.5% fee per trade, and was released in late July. Their back-end is powered by Seaport, the same tech used by OpenSea, and hosts a few new features engineered by the platform’s development team including bulk listing, collection offer, and profile buyout offer, pioneered by LCFR. There is also a messaging service to directly communicate with other traders.

In August, ENS.Vision accounted for just over 100k new ENS domain registrations, over a third of the total ENS registered worldwide, and they have hosted 182k unique users in the past 30 days. Year to date, ENS.Vision has experienced over 14 million page visits and has hosted over 313k unique users total. Even if users aren’t connecting their wallets to the site, they can still take advantage of the numerous analytics tools available.

ENS.Vision has also announced an expansion of their team, including the hiring of new community manager Sadaf.eth. Check out her featured video from TikTok on how to make a bulk offer on ENS.Vision. 

CLUB BOOM AND BUST - WHAT IS THE HOLY GRAIL?

In the previous foreign language article released in early July, Passport Clubs were minting out and had considerable hype. So why did the previous article warn of the speculative nature of these clubs? A few factors to consider:

There are 258 emoji flags. At 1100 per Passport Club, that puts the potential supply at 283,800 total for these 3 and 4 character domains. At a $150 - $640 a year renewal cost, the floor price of any of these clubs would be difficult to sustain without significant hype. Naturally, after the hype waned, many of these clubs quickly faded into obscurity. 

Categorizing ENS domains into clubs can sometimes have drawbacks. Users expect the floors of these clubs to perform in a similar way to 10k PFP projects. Looking at the example of the 3 letter club, which has +17k possible combinations, and the Arabic 10k club, many floor domains are going into grace period without renewal. Yet, valuable grails like palindromes and repeating characters are still going for a high premium. Thus, in clubs with less volume and community, traders will likely find more liquidity trading grails vs floor domains.

ANALYTICS - THE IMPACT OF THE GRACE PERIOD

When an ENS domain falls into the grace period, it can’t be traded or transferred. 3 and 4 character clubs with higher registration costs are more likely to see registrations under 1 year. Since the ENS domains website defaults to 1 year registrations, some users aren’t aware of the possibility of lower registration times. 

On ENS.Vision, users can set registration times as low as one month and register in bulk. When an ENS club gets popular enough, speculators are likely to mass mint the remaining supply with a low registration time and immediately place the domains up for sale. Currently, users can view how many domains in any given club are in grace period by unchecking the “listed” box, changing the type to “Grace” and selecting 100 entries per page. The number at the top of the screen will indicate how many pages of these domains are in the grace period.

PHOTO 2 ENS VISION ARABIC 9999 SORT
ENS Vision

The ENS DAO’s governance forum has two main threads from 2021 and 2022 with delegates and team members discussing ideas for changes to the minimum registration time. A minimum cap on registration time would cut down on speculative mints which could harm everyday users, but would potentially decrease the amount of revenue earned by ENS and their parent company, True Names Limited. A request has been made of ENS.Vision to add an average grace period stat to help users get a clearer picture of the longevity of each club.

PAIRING DIGITS

An emerging trend is users matching their digits to similar ones in other clubs. Common in the 999 Arabic club, popular PFP projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club, and now negative digit clubs, creating a full set of digits and sporting them in your bio is becoming trendy.

The 999 Arabic club’s new thread featuring holders with paired digits adds a touch of Middle Eastern flair, showing Western and Eastern Arabic digits side by side. Artistic rendering of ENS digits and pairs is a new way for graphic designers and artists to make their unique mark on ENS communities.

photo 3 arabic pair
999 Arabic Club

5 DOMAIN TRENDS TO WATCH

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

In early July, foreign language ENS clubs were heating up. Users were excited to see many of the clubs “mint out,” or achieve registration of all of the domains in the club. Despite the initial excitement, the first wave of hype appears to have died down for many foreign language clubs. One exception is the 999 Arabic club, which uses Eastern Arabic numerals. As the #6 club by volume overall, the 999 Arabic club’s community has continued to maintain momentum through networking, community engagement and education. Twitter user Ktrap recently put out an interesting thread, showing how many countries use Western Arabic digits in their media publications. Arab countries, on the other hand, are consistently found to be using Eastern Arabic digits. The 999 CN Club has also received notable volume, ranking at #15 overall on ENS.Vision. Spanish word ENS domains have also become increasingly popular, though no formal categories on ENS marketplaces have been established for these yet. 

ETHMOJI

Ethmojis, meaning the use of emojis within ENS domains, are growing in popularity. Ethmoji 99 and 999 club domains are created by using block number emojis. Single, double and triple Ethmoji clubs consist of regular Emojis. 👨‍🦲.eth recently swept up domains across these clubs. The advantage of using these symbols, which some call hieroglyphs, is that they don’t require translation and are widely understood worldwide. One of the drawbacks of using these domains for payments is that many of the emojis look extremely similar, which could cause confusion for the payment sender.

5 CHARACTER CLUBS

Many consider ENS domains with 5 characters to be in a sweet spot. They’re short, but have a $5 per year registration. 5 character domains, such as Western Arabic digits, Eastern Arabic digits, palindromes and words, have the potential to become widely adopted without users spending valuable capital on renewal fees. 

Coming in at #3 by total volume, the 100k Club consists of 5 digit Western Arabic numerals. There are currently just over 22k holders, and the top 10 holders own a total of 6% of the supply. Prominent zip codes have sold above the floor, and digits under 1000 have also commanded a premium.

NEGATIVE DIGITS - GOING TO ZERO AND BEYOND

One of the newest ENS trends is negative digits. Despite not having a club listed on ENS.Vision, negative digits have boasted some impressive sales numbers. One advantage of using the minus sign is that two digit numbers can be minted, and 3 and 4 digit clubs enjoy a lower registration cost. Some holders of the 999 and 10k clubs are pairing their digits with their negative counterparts. The club also got a shoutout from Nansen:

The negative clubs are new, unproven, and recently minted out, but have a tenacious group of holders. That being said, they are still quite speculative and users don’t currently have access to tools to monitor club stats like grace period, amount of holders, and trading history. Buyers should proceed with caution, as even according to its fervent and clearly toxic community, the club is most likely going to zero.

SOL, TEZ & BNB DOMAINS

Solana domains, via the Bonfida Naming Service, have begun to pick up steam. Around a quarter million .sol names have been minted so far. Users who are priced out of those collections on Ethereum have begun speculating on the same collections on Solana, trading them mostly on Magic Eden, which is Solana’s most widely used NFT trading platform. Boasting a lighting fast UI, Magic Eden is compatible with over 15 wallets and also has an Ethereum marketplace. Bonfida also recently announced their verified sellers program:

Tezos and Binance are also beginning to see more market share. The Tezos Domains website integrates both minting and secondary marketplace in one platform. On September 17th, Space ID Protocol launched their domain service on Binance Smart Chain, receiving over a quarter million registrations and 55k unique users in the first day. 

THE LONG SUMMER

With over 2.2m registrations, ENS is showing no signs of slowing down. Subdomains are likely to increase speculation on grail subdomains, and have a potential to curb the amount of overall primary domain registrations. With high profile business owners and celebrities beginning to purchase domains from ENS clubs, and marketplaces in the Middle East beginning to participate in ENS domain trading, it appears ENS Summer is far from over. The buzz of activity within the ENS DAO, diverse new communities taking shape, and numerous developers building on the protocol shows that ENS is poised to become one of the most dominant NFT protocols in the coming years.

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