Cryptocurrency domains: an analysis of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is turning into a fickle investment — the rise and fall of the crypto coin’s value is something we haven’t seen before. You can take this instability as a sign that now is the perfect time to get in. But some people might prefer a safer bet and would rather put their money somewhere else. A cryptocurrency domain name for example.

Domain names related to cryptocurrencies show growing popularity. Registry Verisign releases keyword trends in domain names each month, and the digital coins are now consistently top of the list. With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on everyone’s mind, we thought this would be the ideal time to do a more in-depth analysis.

Bitcoin domain registrations follow coin price
It may seem like a long time ago, but the price of a Bitcoin first surged back in September last year. The coin hit the 5000-dollar point, and it was all uphill from there.

A month-by-month overview of the registration of Bitcoin domains shows the same trend. There were just over 23000 early adopters who bought a domain name with the word Bitcoin in it before last year. The registration of Bitcoin-related domain names then seemed to experience a bit of a slump — between January 2017 and August of that same year, roughly 4000 domains bought contained the word.

Then the market share of the coin increased. We first see a spike in Bitcoin domain name registrations in September. The overall number of Bitcoin-related domains created that month almost hit the 5000 mark — close to the actual value of the coin at that point. In October other domain investors also got on board, and registration numbers for the month rose to 7300. Bitcoin domain name numbers then hit a 2017 peak in the final two months of the year, with 12694 and 12889 domains bought in November and December respectively.

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Majority of Bitcoin domains registered in the United States
It seems that American crypto-fans were quick to notice the cryptocurrency trend. Of all Bitcoin-related domains registered in 2017, almost 75 percent of them is located in the United States. Small numbers of registrations were also found in Germany (3.3 percent), Canada (2.6 percent) and the Netherlands (2.3 percent). Other countries seemed less interested in the crypto domains.

You should double-check each Bitcoin website
It is one of the many critical sounds that you hear in Bitcoin discussions: not everyone who uses or owns the coin does so with the best intentions. This seems to be just as true for website owners of a Bitcoin domain.

Our in-house developed Trust Score looks at the trustworthiness of any website we encounter. It does this by weighing multiple privacy- and security-related variables. When it comes to Bitcoin-related domains, only a small part of them has a Trust Score that we would classify as dangerous (between zero and twenty). That doesn’t mean, however, that the other websites are without problems. We still see over 40 percent of Bitcoin domains with a Trust Score that ranges between twenty and forty. Not per definition a shady site, but it is an indication that you should stay aware of security measures that show a website is legit.

Bitcoin eCommerce stands for what they believe in
Let’s be clear; there are hardly any online stores that have the word Bitcoin in their domain name. We found only 193 websites that fit our query, so maybe interpret these results with a grain of salt.

Having said that, a look at these 193 online stores shows that they mostly sell what you might expect. They offer hardware to mine the cryptocurrency, books, educational products on how to get rich with Bitcoin and some even claim to sell the coin itself. And then there are the odd ones — online stores that sell real-world coins claiming that they are Bitcoin, those creating Bitcoin art and even people selling Bitcoin collector’s items such as clothing.

Their business may not always seem entirely within the law, but those who have turned their Bitcoin domain into an online store practice what they preach. Of the 193 websites we found, 99 percent accepts the cryptocurrency as a payment method.

We’ll see what the future holds
The current crash of Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies may also be the downfall of the crypto-related registrations of domains. There’s only one thing we know for sure; it is just too early to tell. What do you think, is the Bitcoin finally bust or will the coin get back on track in weeks to come?

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