In what is probably the strangest domain launch to date, the crypto-focused new gTLD .box has gone on sale, but you can’t use actual money to buy domains there.
The unique selling point of .box domains is that they work on both the regular consensus DNS — .box is an ICANN-approved and contracted gTLD — and the Ethereum Name Service blockchain alt-root, so registrants can use their domains to address their crypto wallets.
From a business model perspective, registry Intercap is doing a lot of things differently.
For starters, it’s not accepting hard currency. The regular general availability price at My.Box, which appears to be the only registrar, is $120 a year, but you can only pay in crypto coins — either Ethereum or USD Coin, a crypto coin that has its value linked 1:1 to the US dollar.
My.Box is using ICANN-accredited top-10 registrar NameSilo to register names, but NameSilo’s own web store does not appear to support them.
The current Early Access Period is also different to the norm. Instead of the price reducing by a certain amount every day at midnight, it’s constantly ticking down, minute by minute, at a rate of 50% a day, so you can get a name for less if you just hang on a few hours (or minutes, or seconds).
EAP pricing started at $7,680 last Thursday and at time of publication is around $470. Judging by zone files, about 30 domains have been sold during EAP so far.
Dropping domains pricing is also handled in what I believe is a unique way. Instead of dropped domains entering the available pool at regular GA pricing, they instead are returned to EAP pricing — so they’ll cost $7,680 to re-register the moment after they drop and you’ll have to wait a full seven days to get them at the regular base price..
I can see the potential for controversy here, but it doesn’t seem much different to registrars auctioning off their customers’ domains after they expire.
My.Box also asks its customers to manage their domain via its app, and it does not allow them to assign their own nameservers — they have to use the nameservers assigned by the registry.