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.austin names launch on blockchain

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2024, Domain Registries

A city gTLD launching exclusively on a blockchain alternative naming system? It’s happened, with the announcement of .austin at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.

The extension is already on sale at $10 a name via Unstoppable Domains, in partnership with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce.

The organizations said the names will serve 2.4 million residents of the Austin area. The extension appears on the Polygon blockchain.

There are plenty of city name gTLDs in the regular DNS, but .austin is believed to be the first blockchain-exclusive (excluding perhaps Handshake, where there are no doubt a great many).

The GAACC claims, without citation, that .austin is “far more secure than the four US city traditional TLDs that exist so far”, which is probably true — domains that don’t resolve for most people can’t be as easily abused.

There’s no word in the Unstoppable or GAACC announcements whether the plan is to apply to ICANN for .austin in the proper DNS in 2026 and mirror the two namespaces, but GAACC will face some administrative hurdles if it wishes to do so.

Under the current draft of the next round’s Applicant Guidebook, applicants need formal endorsement from the local government when applying for “a city name, where the applicant declares that it intends to use the gTLD for purposes associated with the city name.”

If the City of Austin were to apply to ICANN separately, there would no doubt be friction.