The blockchain ecosystem suffers from an adoption-curve crisis. At a certain point — much like we saw in the history of the Internet itself — this technology must make itself relevant to the most people possible on a larger scale.

What we have all gained in security via the blockchain revolution, we have yet to achieve in terms of user experience. Nearly a decade since the Nakamoto whitepaper https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf, we are long past the time when we need to start thinking about the latter seriously, lest all of this effort merely benefit a handful of relatively well-to-do enthusiasts who too often only make hand-waving promises of greater inclusion.

It makes sense, then, to take a lesson from technology history: the Domain Name Service (DNS) and its effect on digital inclusion.

Instead of memorizing and reciting a four-to-twelve digit number (say, 138.68.248.245), it’s just easier to tell a friend “Go to bitcoin-dot-org.” (This is to say nothing of IPv6 addresses, which are many times longer and more complicated.) DNS provides a bridge between the two. The importance of this simple translation layer cannot be overstated, especially in the context of inclusion.

Attempting to do something like this in the cryptocurrency world would be intimidating to say the least. If one was particularly interested in giving this author bitcoin, for example, saying the public address out loud would sound something like: “Zero-X-as-in-X-ray-one-six-C-as-in-cat-E-as-in-Edward-four-seven…” What’s needed is an alias service for the blockchain era, similar to what we have enjoyed on the web.

We think that pointing to wallets and smart contracts should be just as easy as saying “wallet-dot-Judith-dot-rsk” or “mortgage-dot-111mainStreet-dot-rsk.” This is why the RIF Name Service (RNS) is the first implementation of RIF’s Directory Protocol — within a highly ambitious project agenda https://www.rifos.org/blog/ — that RIF has unveiled at launch.

Running atop the RSK blockchain, RNS has three components:

  • Registry: This is the smart contract where the names are stored, and a given name (“alice.rsk”) is mapped to its owner (“Alice.”)
  • Registrar: Here, names are bought and sold on the open market via a Vickrey auction: highest bidder wins, but pays the second-highest bidder’s price. If Alice wins the bid for “alice.rsk,” she can also give Bob “bob.alice.rsk” without another auction. Each bid spins out a “deed” contract, attesting to the ownership.
  • Resolver: This marries the *.rsk name to the desired resource, and could be pointed to a wallet, exchange, smart contract, or a distributed application (dApp).

More details are available in the RNS specification https://docs.rsk.co/rsk-name-service-specification-en.pdf  and in the RIF Whitepaper https://docs.rifos.org/rif-whitepaper-en.pdf

RIF OS will offer a lot of great features  https://www.rifos.org/  that you’ll hear about in the coming months, but introducing this service at launch was the way we felt we could do the most good, most quickly. In the future, we intend that RNS will also resolve Ethereum and Internet DNS addresses. For now, though, we are proud to start building the foundation that will help make the cryptocurrency, blockchain, and dApp space more accessible without sacrificing the benefits these technologies deliver.