The Benefits of Decentralized Usernames

Image from Nametag

Usernames are a foundational element of just about every service on the Internet. And while most of the Internet and its services have evolved at just about the speed of light, username tech at large is still very much running in the 90’s. They are the discrete digital assets that we use to identify our online selves, and are often treated as a sort of real estate; that is, they possess scarcity, demand, and therefore, value.

In fact, platform usernames are constantly sold like real estate… if real estate were contraband or illegal drugs. Platforms at large flat out disallow the sale of usernames — yet turn handles over to celebrities and copyright holders. Sales, when they do happen, are pushed to grey markets, and true username “ownership” is far from immutable.

The current situation is thus:

  • Usernames are inherently valuable
  • They cannot be safely sold or transferred
  • They can easily be stolen (or copyright claimed)

Usernames are valuable — but ownership is vulnerable.

The building blocks exist for a robust & recognized economy of names — but until recently, technology had held things back. It was foolhardy to expect the social platforms adopt “open” naming systems, if not on the basis of architectural complexity alone.

How NFTs solve the username problem

At the core of the problem with usernames is technology — not agenda. Social platforms explicitly don’t allow names to be bought and sold, because if they did, they’d now be liable for a host of complex brokerage issues, including safe transfer, storage, escrow, and more. As it sits, an account hack that results in your “OG” Twitter username being lost is not a direct financial liability to Twitter — the username has no “value”, as per their ToS.

Integrating NFT usernames fixes all of these technological problems in one fell swoop. True ownership of a username is now secure. Transfer is safe. And brokerage can be handled by any number of robust sales platforms like OpenSea. The economy of names is no longer confined to illicit markets, and it flourishes. A lovely sight, indeed.

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