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Overview

What is an NFD?

Non-fungible domains (NFDs) are unique, digital identities built on Algorand, a decentralized, open source protocol. Unlike traditional DNS domains, which are used to identify and locate resources on the internet, NFDs are used to create a unique, immutable identity for users on the blockchain by associating data with wallet addresses. This identity can be used to represent and manage a wide range of digital assets, including cryptocurrency, digital collectibles, and other forms of digital property. NFDs are a key component of the web3 ecosystem on Algorand, providing a secure and decentralized way for users to manage and protect their digital identities.

What is a digital identity?

Digital identities are a fundamental part of the online world, allowing individuals and entities to securely access and manage their online accounts and resources. They typically include a username and password, as well as additional identifying information such as a phone number or email address. This information is used to verify the users identity and grant them access to the online accounts and services they are authorized to use.
In the context of blockchain, digital identities can also be used to represent and manage digital assets, such as cryptocurrency, digital collectibles, and other forms of digital property. These identities can be created and managed using smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This allows users to securely and reliably manage and transfer their digital assets, without the need for long wallet addresses or a centralized authority.
Self-chosen digital identities can be particularly powerful, as they allow individuals to define and control their own online identities, rather than being assigned one at birth. This can give users more control over how they are perceived and represented online, and can enable them to create a more personalized and unique online presence.

Why use a blockchain naming service on Algorand?

A blockchain naming service, such as NFDs, provides several key benefits. First, it allows users to create and manage a unique, digital identity that is stored on the blockchain, providing a secure and decentralized way to represent and manage their digital assets. Second, it allows users to easily find and connect with each other on Algorand, using their unique NFDs as a global, decentralized address system.
Algorand is well-suited to hosting digital identities because of its fast, secure, and scalable blockchain protocol. Algorand uses a unique consensus algorithm called pure proof of stake (PPoS), which allows it to process transactions quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing security or decentralization. Additionally, Algorand has low transaction fees and offers support for a wide range of applications, making it an attractive platform for developers and users looking to create and manage digital identities and assets.
In comparison, Ethereum is also a popular platform for digital identities and assets, but it has some limitations. Ethereum is known for its high transaction fees and slow transaction times, which can make it difficult and expensive to use for many applications. Additionally, Ethereum has faced scalability challenges in the past, which can impact its ability to support a large number of users and transactions. As a result, many users and developers are looking to alternative protocols, such as Algorand, to host their digital identities and assets.

Technical Overview

Under the hood, NFDs use smart contracts to associate your wallet address with a readable name, like "silvio.algo", allowing you to send and receive crypto using an identity that is easy to type and remember. NFDs are owned not leased. This makes it possible to permanently own your identity without fear of forgetting to register it.
NFDs support forward and reverse lookups, meaning that a name ("silvio.algo") can be used to find its associated wallet addresses, and vice versa. This opens up a host of discoverability and transparency features for blockchain explorers, NFT marketplaces, DAOs, and other web3 services that integrate with NFDs. There are already over 60 platforms using NFDs in place of addresses. Check out our integrators page to find them all.
Since every NFD is a distinct contract instance, up to 8KB of metadata (the maximum allowed by Algorand) can be stored in the contract's global state. This enables users to associate profile information, social media, and other data with their NFD.
Each NFD mints its own ARC19 NFT, or "identity token", that represents your NFD's contract state, including all metadata you set. This feature is what enables NFDs to "live" in your wallet, giving you full visibility and ownership of your digital identity. Thanks to the mutable ARC19 standard, the NFT can update its own metadata so that it stays up-to-date. When you sell your NFD all metadata is wiped from both the NFD and NFT.
Users can redirect their web3 NFDs to any web2 URL using the "algo.xyz" proxy. No plugins required, simply owning "silvio.algo" gives you access to the "silvio.algo.xyz" proxy that can be directed to your NFD profile or any URL you choose.
The maximum length of an NFD is 27 characters. Emoji's, and 1- & 2-character names will be auctioned in reverse auctions, along with some other curated words. Allowed characters are A-Z, 0-9 & an Emoji library. No special characters are allowed. NFDs are a one-time purchase at a fixed USD value. The amount of ALGO will fluctuate based on the ALGO/USD conversion at the time of purchase. There will be no renewal fees for an NFD.
NFDs are identity tokens that you carry in your wallet as you travel through the ecosystem. You can attach metadata to your NFD like your profile, social media links, a collection of NFTs, almost anything you want... Get creative and surprise us!
The metadata features of NFDs enable applications and services on the blockchain to query this data and surface it, breaking down walled gardens in the ecosystem. This has the added benefit of decentralization, as applications do not need to rely on their own databases to provide basic profile and social features.
An NFT artist who has diligently cultivated a social following through their work could store their logo, portfolio and social credentials in an NFD that travels with them as they build their brand on a range of marketplaces. Artists can also take advantage of linking all of their creator addresses to their NFD to make cross-platform discoverability easier.
Furthermore, a user's Twitter, Discord, Telegram, Email, and Domain can be optionally verified using an automated system. This provides trust and reassurance that collectors are buying from real NFT projects, donations are going to legitimate non-profits, and so on. Third-party integrators can leverage this to reduce bot farming on airdrops, giveaways, etc., by requiring participants to verify their profiles.
While these features provide powerful means for discoverability and presence, we recognize that in crypto, anonymity is a virtue. It is advisable, for example, to shield your cold storage address from prying eyes. For that reason, all metadata fields are optional, and if you're worried about privacy we recommend you do not fill in any identifying information.

Forward and Reverse Name Resolution

Thanks to the innovative smart contract architecture that underpins NFDs, both forward and reverse lookups are supported. In other words, "silvio.algo" can be used to find a wallet address, and a wallet address can be used to find "silvio.algo".
That might not seem like a big deal, but it unlocks exciting features and usability improvements across a wide range of services.
For example, using reverse lookups, blockchain explorers can display readable names of exchanges and other services in their tables of transactions, DAOs can provide more transparency by showing information about individual participants in governance votes, and NFT artists can display their name, profile and information about their project in any marketplace that integrates with NFDs.
Those are just some of the possibilities. Using our public APIs and smart contracts, we expect developers to discover new and exciting ways to use this powerful combination of bidirectional lookups, unique identity, and user-driven metadata.