Many people who enter the crypto space choose to represent themselves or their business with a blockchain domain name. Among many popular options are the .bitcoin and .btc domain extensions, which are designed specifically for fans of Bitcoin. These are two of the most recognizable domains that relate directly to this cryptocurrency, but what exactly makes them special? And which one should you choose for yourself?
These two domains might seem very similar on the surface, but in truth, there are many differences between them which any interested party should be mindful of before making their decision. Domain names are a very important part of somebody’s online identity, and so it is paramount that serious thought is given before choosing. Careful consideration needs to be made.
Whether you use these .bitcoin or .btc domains to host a website or to simply represent your digital persona, it is deeply important to get your head around their key differences. These are both technological and social differences, and your decision will have a big effect on how you navigate this industry going forward.
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Table of Contents
What is a Bitcoin domain?
The .bitcoin and .btc domain names are both specific types of blockchain domains. This means that they are essentially NFTs that correspond to a specific name. While NFTs are typically thought of as being images or pictures, in reality, an NFT can take the form of any type of data. This includes simple words. Although NFT domains are a little more than just a set of words, as they are used for identification and web hosting.
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It goes without saying that both .btc and .bitcoin domain names relate specifically to their namesake coin. They both convey to the world that somebody is an active participant in the bitcoin ecosystem, regardless of whether that means they are a trader, a developer, or simply a fan. It is an easy way to show the world that you care about Bitcoin and that you are involved with its community.
This is one major reason why people choose to get a .bitcoin or .btc domain. People will then often use these bitcoin domain names as their profile names on social media sites such as Twitter, Medium, or Mirror. And if they are interested in taking things one step further, they may host a website under them, too. Although, do not let the word “domain” confuse you– while these names can be used as domains, this is not a requirement.
Oftentimes, people will use these bitcoin domain names as simple pseudonyms that do not actually direct to a website. They may also use these as substitutes for their bitcoin public addresses. So, instead of somebody’s public address being “1Lbcfr7sAHTD9GgdQo7HTMTkL8LK4ZnX61”, it will be something like “cryptofan.bitcoin”.
It goes without saying that one of these is more readable than the other! For this reason, bitcoin domain names are being more and more encouraged for fans to use as they make the barrier of entry for newcomers much easier. Novices are understandably daunted by the complex visual appearance of a standard wallet address. Using .bitcoin or .btc domains helps by making the space overall less intimidating.
Understanding .btc and .bitcoin
Both of these bitcoin domains have slightly different origins and histories. If you are interested in owning one, it makes sense to learn about what makes them distinct as this could affect your choice. To start with, .btc domains were launched in mid-2021 by a company called Stacks. This is a blockchain project that is built to work in tandem with the bitcoin blockchain.
It is designed to have a special type of symbiotic relationship with Bitcoin where it utilizes some of the security features that Bitcoin has, whilst also adding some tools to Bitcoin such as offering limited smart contract capabilities. This might sound like a Layer-2 solution, but the Stacks team is careful to argue otherwise, as it does not help with scaling Bitcoin or with transaction speeds (such as how Lightning Network helps).
The Stacks blockchain is quite complex to understand, but luckily for us, we do not need to know very much about it. The most relevant detail to understand is that the company is involved in the Bitcoin ecosystem, whilst also being separate from the Bitcoin blockchain itself. .btc domains are held on the blockchain naming service (or BNS), which is a blockchain-based domain management database.
Do not get confused, however, with the Binance Chain Naming Service, which is sometimes also abbreviated to the same acronym. Along with .btc, it also supports .id and .stacks domains. As to be expected, this is largely integrated with Stacks, even though the project is technically run by a different organization named New Internet Labs.
Moving on to the .bitcoin domain, this is managed by Unstoppable Domains, founded in 2018. The company handles many different blockchain domains such as .nft, .blockchain, and .crypto. It is a well-respected company in the industry that has made a name for itself by offering a range of non-traditional domains to members of the blockchain and Web3 community.
The .bitcoin domain is managed by Unstoppable Domains’ own naming service, called UNS. This is managed on the Polygon blockchain, but also has compatibility with the Ethereum blockchain. It might sound odd to get a Bitcoin domain that is handled on a blockchain that is disconnected to the Bitcoin network, but in truth, it makes sense when you consider the industry as a whole.
While the Bitcoin cryptocurrency is often pitted against other cryptocurrencies from a trading perspective, the Bitcoin blockchain and ecosystem actually have huge overlaps with other blockchains. Developers and fans in this industry typically belong to multiple user bases and are always looking for ways to work with other ecosystems and share resources with them.
Plus, with Bitcoin being the pioneer of the blockchain industry, many people view owning a .bitcoin domain as a sign that they are simply a supporter of the entire space. In this sense, it does not matter where these domains are held because Bitcoin is a catalyst for everything involved in blockchain and Web3.
What Does a .btc Domain Convey?
Let’s hone in on what exactly .bitcoin and .btc domain names actually convey to the world. Earlier we mentioned that they both tell the public that you are interested in Bitcoin and its ecosystem, but this might be a little too generalized, as these two domains have several core differences that are worth examining. To begin with, let’s take a look at how these domains might be perceived.
At face value, a .bitcoin and a .btc domain seem quite similar, and so you would expect them to have similar connotations. However, this is far from the truth. For starters, consider the fact that one of them refers to the acronym used to denote the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, BTC. This is a term used primarily by traders and investors in the space who focus on the financial side of things.
If you are somebody who focuses on finance and transactions, then a .btc domain might be a good option, but if you do anything else in the blockchain space then it might be less meaningful. For instance, if you are a developer or an NFT collector, then a .btc name might not be as significant to you as your activity extends far beyond merely trading fungible crypto assets.
In other words, a .btc domain conveys something very specific and limited. Intentionally or otherwise, it can very easily be a way of telling the world that you focus on the monetary parts of the industry. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you work on the underlying technology in the crypto space, build DAOs, games, create educational content, or are a budding thought leader then it might not suit you.
Even if you are a trader and the .btc domain name makes sense for you, by getting one of these names you are essentially restricting yourself and your online persona in the chances that you ever decide to move to a different avenue. While it is definitely still possible to develop tools or create thought-leadership content with a .btc name, you run the risk of your ideas always being viewed from the perspective of a trader.
The people making these connotations about you might not be doing so intentionally; it may be a subconscious process where they conflate the .btc domain with the BTC price ticker symbol. And it might not sound like it matters much to be perceived as a trader, but as this space matures and people look for altruistic and humanistic solutions that blockchain and Web3 tech can help with, being seen as finance-oriented is not always beneficial.
This does, however, raise the question of whether .eth names present the same struggles. Arguably, this is not the case, and this comes down to three reasons. Firstly, .eth is run by members of the Ethereum community, where the domain service itself is actually seen as something that extends beyond money by providing a non-financially oriented use case for NFTs.
Secondly, .eth names have a longer history than a lot of blockchain domains, and so they have built a legacy that extends beyond trading. .btc is much newer and receives much less mainstream and social media attention. Thirdly, there is no .ethereum domain name as an alternative. If that alternative did exist and it was well-known, then perhaps there would be a different connotation drawn from .eth. But that is not the case.
What Does a .bitcoin Domain Convey?
We’ve examined .btc domains; now it is time to examine their counterpart. A .bitcoin domain has a slightly different perception. To begin with, by using the full name instead of the acronym, it shows the world that you are interested in Bitcoin as a whole, not just its financial and market movements. This is great for devs and thought-leaders who want to make a name for themselves.
Bitcoin is a very important aspect of the industry; far more important than the BTC coin itself. It is the blockchain that galvanized the world to look to alternative methods of governance, finance, and autonomy. It might sound weird to separate Bitcoin so significantly from BTC, as they both technically convey the same thing, but from a linguistic and sociological perspective, they carry different ideas with them.
A .bitcoin domain means much more as it covers many more elements of the space. You could say that these .bitcoin domain names offer more freedom to change how you interact with the space for this very reason. If you want to be a developer that’s fine! If you want to be a trader in the future, that’s also fine because the name “Bitcoin” is more all-encompassing than the name of its price ticker symbol.
This is a hard point to make sense of, and to some, it might sound trivial, but the way you present yourself online is important on a very nuanced and minute level. This is because we can change how every element of ourselves is perceived online, and so what we do (even at a small scale) matters because we have the autonomy to make those changes.
To some extent, these are cosmetic changes, but cosmetics and appearance change how others view us. With this is mind, if there is a way to modify your digital appearance or representation to fit the themes and ideas you have in mind, why not go down that route? If you are a developer or a tutor in the Bitcoin space, you’ll have a harder time explaining your work under a .btc name than a .bitcoin domain.
How to Buy .btc Domain Names?
Let’s now look into how you can actually buy a .btc domain. To do this, you will want to head over to btc.us and go ahead to claim your .btc domain. In the search bar on the landing page, simply enter the name you are looking for. If the name has not been used or claimed by anybody, then it is yours to have! You will then be given a rate to pay and told how long you will have it for.
Typically, names are worth 2 STX; the cryptocurrency that runs on the Stacks blockchain that we mentioned earlier. You might be surprised here to learn that payment for this bitcoin domain registration cannot happen via BTC itself. While .btc domain names are related to the Bitcoin ecosystem both through their name and the Stacks blockchain, they are still managed in a way that only minimally involves Bitcoin.
In fact, they are managed by the Blockchain Naming Service (BNS) that works on the Stacks blockchain. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as even .bitcoin domain names are not handled on Bitcoin’s own network. This is because Bitcoin does not support these types of complex actions. Nevertheless, be prepared to have some STX available before embarking on this purchase.
You can get STX from Binance and Kraken. To buy a .btc domain, you will not need a lot of money in any regard. Domains typically cost around 2 STX, which at the time of writing is equivalent to $0.58! It is rare to find crypto domain names that are this cheap in the space. It might be hard, however, to buy simply 2 STX due to their low price, so you might find yourself spending a bit more when trading to own some.
You then need to take your STX to a wallet. At the moment there are only two options for this: Hiro Wallet or Xverse Wallet. The reason there are so few supporting wallets is that the STX blockchain has a unique architecture compared to other blockchains. This allows it to do some innovative things like work alongside the Bitcoin network to provide some smart contracts capabilities, but it also isolates it from the more interoperable tools out there.
After you have transferred your money to one of these wallets, go back to the btc.us site and log in via your wallet. You will then be prompted to buy a .btc domain. Send your 2 STX and then it will be yours for five years. Afterward, you will need to renew it to maintain access, which will be roughly the same price. Of course, the price to buy .btc domains could alter if the price of STX improves or degrades over time.
How to Buy .bitcoin Domain Names?
The process of buying .bitcoin domain names is different in a few ways. For starters, go to Unstoppable Domains and search for a name you would like. If it is available, you can then claim it and begin the .bitcoin domain registration process. The cost of a .bitcoin domain name will be more expensive than when you buy .btc a domain. The price for these starts at $40.
However, there is one big upside, which is that this is a one-time purchase. When you purchase from Unstoppable Domains, you do not have any renewal costs or subscription fees. There is only one purchase and after that, you fully own it forever. Possession of the domain is transferred to you in its entirety. For many, this makes .bitcoin domain names more appealing and enticing.
After deciding on the name you want, you then go ahead and pay. You will be presented with several options. You can pay via fiat in the form of credit or debit cards, PayPal, or with cryptocurrency. You can either send money via a wallet or through Crypto.com. Ironically, despite the .bitcoin domain registration having less involvement with the Bitcoin blockchain than .btc domains, you can actually pay for this domain with BTC.
This was not a possibility when it came to how to buy .btc domains. Instead, they only supported STX. This is important to note if you are somebody who wants to stick with tried and trust cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It is also especially relevant as potential users of .bitcoin and .btc domain names will likely be BTC users and adopters. For Unstoppable Domains, you will have 1 hour to make your purchase via crypto.
If that time expires, the transaction will be canceled. This gives ample time for your transaction to get confirmed. Once that has happened, your .bitcoin domain registration will be completed. Your next step will be to transfer your domain to a Polygon wallet, as it should be remembered that these domains do not run on the Bitcoin network itself and all Unstoppable Domains choices are Polygon compatible.
Buying From Secondary Markets
Btc.us and Unstoppable Domains should be your first ports of call for .bitcoin and .btc domain names. But they are not the only place to buy them from. There are also secondary marketplaces where people sell the domains they already own. For .bitcoin domains, you have many options, however, OpenSea and the Binance NFT marketplace are two very popular ones.
In terms of how to buy .btc domains second-hand, there are some options available as well. Price.btc.us is a dedicated marketplace specifically for .btc names. Otherwise, Gamma.io is also a good spot to buy and sell these domains. This is a marketplace for Bitcoin-based NFTs, which .btc and Stacks NFTs technically fit into due to their connectivity with the Bitcoin network.
Here, you will find that .btc domains can sell for 50 Stacks ($14.00), 100 Stacks ($28.00) or even 500 Stacks ($145.00). In other words, it is possible to make a return on them as an investment. Circling back to .bitcoin domains, these can sell at double, triple, or quadruple the price. Of course, all of this is dependent on supply and demand and the quality of the name itself.
There are likely to be other secondary markets to check out for these domains, and over time more will likely spring up, too. These are great spots to keep in mind when looking for a domain name that you cannot readily find, or if you want to pick up a name that has more recognition or simplicity. As a rudimentary example, if you were looking for a domain like blockchain.bitcoin or blockchain.btc, it would likely already be claimed.
But with the opportunities created by secondary markets, this does not mean you can never own them yourself. In fact, so long as somebody is selling them, you can definitely buy them from a third party and make them yours. Of course, for names as prestige as this, that would likely cost quite a bit, but if you do have access to those funds then it could be worth it, even if just for the name recognition alone!
Weighing Up Your Options
Whether you should buy a .bitcoin or .btc domain is a hard one to decide, and one that will depend entirely on your own plans within the blockchain space. Are you somebody who enjoys engaging in trading? If so, then a .btc domain might be the best option. Are you somebody who develops or builds projects that lie outside of the realm of trading? Perhaps a .bitcoin domain is ideal.
Not only this but you should consider your financial options because how to buy .btc domains and their .bitcoin counterparts vary significantly. For instance, if you want a .bitcoin name then you have a wide range of options such as using Bitcoin, Ethereum, stablecoins, and even fiat. However, if you are buying a .btc domain then you must pay using Stacks (or STX).
Naturally, this can affect what decision you go for. Some people are just beginning to onboard themselves into Web3 and cryptocurrency, and so it makes more sense for them to get a .bitcoin domain through Unstoppable Domains as they can use their credit or debit card to do so. Plus, not everybody wants to go ahead and invest in a cryptocurrency they have never used before, such as Stacks.
A final major reason to consider is whether you want complete ownership over your domain or whether you are comfortable with renewals and subscriptions. .bitcoin domains, much like all of Unstoppable Domains’ options, are a single one-time purchase for life. This involves no renewal fees whatsoever.
However, an important part of learning how to buy .btc domains is recognizing that you must pay for their upkeep every five years. Granted, this is a very low fee, but a fee nonetheless. The lack of cost involved means that payment is unlikely to be an issue, although there may be some people who wince at the idea of renewal costs, in general, due to the implication that you do not fully own and control the domain itself.
There are many questions that you need to consider when deciding on whether you would like a .btc domain from Stacks or a .bitcoin domain from Unstoppable Domains. Some of the points raised may sound trivial, but they cut to the core of what Web3 and blockchain technology is all about! They involve thinking about autonomy, control, representation, and crypto adoption. With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense to focus on these points and truly meditate on the situation.
However, there are no wrong moves as it is all circumstantial. In truth, no one domain is better than another, but rather they might suit some people's needs more than others. It is your job, then, to figure out which one works best for you. The best way to do this is to think hard about how you want to be perceived in this space, as well as what payment methods you are most comfortable with.
Do not just think about short-term goals, but consider what your position may be in several years. Not only this, but question what you believe the industry will look like in the future as well, and whether you think one domain will produce a greater public image than the other. Essentially, the best way forward is to really focus on what matters most to you.