One of the main issues that has slowed the adoption of Bitcoin as a currency and payment system has been the complexity of Bitcoin addresses.
The blockchain lacks the human-friendly names normally found with websites and email addresses, which can make sending payments a rather cumbersome process. Netki wants to help people move away from confusing Bitcoin addresses, such as 15eA82FZLogpSb8nkQ5h5qaF3QNEwSeyCm, toward human-readable names such as kyletorpey.tip.me.
Any bitcoin user would be able to send bitcoin to anyone else as easily as a Gmail user can send an email to someone using a web browser.
How Does it Work?
“Your base records reside in the Namecoin blockchain proving ownership, and allowing for full, censor-proof control,” Netki CEO Justin Newton explained via email. “The actual wallet name-to-address lookups occur on standard DNS records secured and authenticated using DNSSEC.
“This combination of decentralized and distributed [solutions] provides the control and ownership of the blockchain along with the privacy of keeping your name to address mapping off of a public ledger,” Newton said.
The Netki CEO also explained that wallet providers will be able to hand out names in a manner similar to how email addresses are handed out to Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and other online mail providers. He specifically mentioned ChangeTip’s use of the tip.me domain as an example of this feature.
Newton was also able to share his thoughts on the differences between Netki and another Bitcoin name system, OneName:
“We believe that a lot of what OneName is doing is really fantastic. There is a need for a decentralized way to validate your social identity, and their roadmap feature of using signatures instead of passwords for logins is excellent and long overdue. We do believe, however, that tying your identity to your wallet address on a public ledger negates the possibility of privacy on the blockchain. For us, making it easy to share your address with anyone without having to publish it to everyone is one of the keys to our service. We’d love to see OneName support Wallet Names where they currently support bitcoin addresses.”
A Problem for Privacy?
The obvious question when talking about name-mapping systems for digital currencies is what it will mean for user privacy. After all, privacy and anonymity are still desirable features for a large number of bitcoin users.
Newton said the protection of privacy was also a concern for Netki, but he added that the use of HD wallets “allows the return of a unique address every time.”
Newton explained that the integration of Payment Requests will allow users to see a green lock next to an address in the “To” field of a Bitcoin wallet. That lock helps users confirm that they’re sending bitcoin to the correct individual, organization, or company. This process is similar to the green lock found next to website URLs that have been secured via SSL and an HTTPS connection.
“The combination of HD Wallets and Payment Requests with Wallet Names increases the privacy and security of sending bitcoin, while at the same time making it more user friendly and reassuring to end users,” Newton said.
An example of this system can be seen in the video below:
In addition to ChangeTip, Netki has also partnered with Gem, Snapcard, Purse.io, ShapeShift, BitQuick, Coinprism, Fold App, and many other companies in the Bitcoin space.
Kyle Torpey is a freelance writer and researcher who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured in VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, NASDAQ, New York Post,The Next Web, American Banker, and other media outlets. You can view all his work at kyletorpey.com or sign up for his personal newsletter.