Namecoin Identities

From NFT History
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Namecoin Identities
Logo nmc ids.png
Blockchain Namecoin
Creation Date May 31, 2012
Fungibility Non-Fungible
Developer(s) Khalahan Henkh, Daniel Kraft
Social Account(s) Twitter
Chat(s) Discord
Website(s) Site
Fig. 1: How to log into a website with Namecoin Identities.

Launched in May 2012, Namecoin Identities refer to the first attempt at a Web3 decentralized identity service.[1] It’s the primitive precursor to the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and is thought to be the third oldest NFT collection after .bit domains (April 2011) and Punycodes (May 2011). Namecoin Identities have a separate namespace, using the id/prefix and are hence separate from .bit domains that are on the d/ namespace. Like the .bit domains, Namecoin Identities are also prime examples of very early Utility NFTs, i.e., meaning that they have a problem-solving purpose.

Early history

Namecoin lead developer Khalahan Henkh (a pseudonym, better known by his nickname khal) started the registration process for the first Namecoin Identity id/khal on May 31, 2012 (at block 58,311). The next day, he introduced Namecoin Identities to the world on Bitcointalk.[2] Namecoin Identities can attach personal information to them. The most common information that has been added to these identities is a mix of email, website, cryptocurrency wallet addresses (Bitcoin, Namecoin, etc.), OpenPGP, Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR), OpenBazaar user names, or BitMessage addresses etc.


Logging into websites without creating separate accounts and avoiding relying on centralized Web2 accounts to do so is the first and most important use case for Namecoin Identities. Namecoin developer Daniel Kraft (aka domob) announced the open-source project, NameID, on June 25, 2013 that does exactly this.[3] NameID allows users to use their Namecoin identity to sign into OpenID-enabled websites (see Fig. 1). NameID is an identity provider, but you don’t have to create a new NameID account (it’s not even possible). You only need a Namecoin Identity because the password to enter an OpenID-enabled website is replaced by a digital signature associated to your Namecoin Identity. (Refer to this how-to YouTube video.) In the mid-2010 years, there were millions of OpenID-enabled websites including very popular ones such as Google, MySpace, and Yahoo. You can still use your Namecoin Identity to log into many websites that still offer an OpenID-enabled login.

Secure Messaging

Sending secure messages is another major use case for Namecoin Identities. If a user stores their public keys for OpenPGP (or similar) in their Namecoin Identity’s value field, they only needs to tell someone their human readable Namecoin Identity (say id/khal) in order to be reached. The other person can later access the user’s keys to send them encrypted messages being assured they are using the correct keys.


OpenBazaar, an anonymous peer-to-peer marketplace where people could buy and sell all kind of items using Bitcoin, was also using Namecoin Identities to feature user friendly names. They added an openbazaar key to the existing JSON, whose value was the internal node identifier (GUID) of the node in question. The earliest entry was id/dionyziz on September 2, 2014. While OpenBazaar was quite popular, with its desktop software being installed over 250,000 times, Namecoin Identities were only used by a handful of users and the marketplace itself shut down in 2021.[4]

Recent events

During the Punycodes rediscovery in January 2022, Namecoin enthusiasts became aware of Namecoin Identities. It took until May 2022 to further dig into the data and the underlying use cases. Since then, a community has formed around these assets which is in the process of putting together a database of Namecoin Identities.

Registration and renewal process

Like with all Namecoin assets, it takes two steps to register a Namecoin Identity: the first one (name_new) is registering the name without broadcasting it (there is only a salted hash). This step is necessary to prevent others from stealing your new name by registering it quickly on their own when they see your transaction. You need to wait at least 12 blocks before you can finally broadcast your name in the second step (with name_firstupdate). If you use the NMC Electrum (light wallet) or a Namecoin Core’s graphical user interface for a full node, you do not need to take care of the two steps on your own given that the second step is done automatically after 12 blocks. But those who use the console (or an older Namecoin Core version) have to manually take care of the second step.

Owners of Namecoin assets need to renew them within 36,000 blocks (roughly nine months) by running another command using their Namecoin wallet (name_update) or by using Emblem Vault's automatic renewal (see the Secondary market subsection below). We refer to Chainleft's detailed discussion with respect to the implications of renewing expired Namecoin assets and ethical considerations concerning the original artist / owner.[5]

Supply and rarity

Focusing on the years 2012–2017, there is a total supply of 7,705 Namecoin Identities (using the date when the Namecoin Identity registration process was started for the first time, name_new, i.e., focusing on the intent to create the asset). Fig. 2 displays the annual distribution. The most scarce year is 2012 with only 46 registered names. Total first registrations peaked in the year 2014 with 4,818 which decreased sharply in the following years.

The total supply refers to standard names only, dropping those with capital letters, being too short (min = 2 characters) or too long (max = 255 characters), including special characters (can only contain a–z and 0–9), or use more than one space between words (or start / end with a blank). Specifically, valid Identities need to conform to the regex ^id\ /[a-z0-9]+[-\s]{0,1}[a-z0-9]+.

Using the search terms ".jpg", ".png", "avatar", and "aws" in the „value“ search field of NFT Relic's database, there are 37 (0.48% out of 7,705) Namecoin Identities with picture links for the years 2012 to 2017. Most of the links point to personal photos, commonly used stock photos, or logos. One of the most interesting Namecoin Identities with artwork is id/vulonkaaz (first registered on July 26, 2015) which points to a pixelated cat.

Annual distribution
Fig. 2: Annual distribution of Namecoin Identities

Secondary markets

Besides trading Namecoin Identities OTC, there is currently no streamlined way to buy/sell Namecoin assets on its native chain. (Note that you can exchange NMC for Namecoin assets via atomic swaps in a trust-less manner, but not by just using the wallet's graphical interface.) Most collectors rely on wrapping their Namecoin assets using Emblem Vault.

For Namecoin Identities, it is recommend to use cryptokorin’s Emblem Vault Namecoin Identity generator to have a uniform appearance on secondary markets. It's also highly suggested to read DesktopCommando’s medium article about vaulting and the information in the official Discord channel (Information / vaulting-namecoin-ids).

Until there is an official Namecoin Identity collection on OpenSea, you can use this link to filter for Identities (note that the filter also captures are few other assets). It is even a bit more tedious to find Namecoin Identities on other platforms such as Looks Rare where you need to use the search bar to find individual listings.