If you wanted to send me bitcoin right now you could either type in ‘1JPrpxRagtzuzY4KWCNV2hBhybqyaTrVwA’ or just look for “johnbiggs” on Onename. That’s what two Princeton grads are hoping you’ll do, anyway.
Onename.io was founded by Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea, two engineers who thought they could fix bitcoin transactions. The goal is simple: to offer a single page that allows you to send and receive money from other bitcoin users. Instead of QR codes and long wallet addresses, the pair want to offer a verified “name” page where users can click a single button and a name that you can type into a wallet application instead of a string of gibberish.
There are a few caveats. First, the system asks you to verify yourself through social media, something many Bitcoin fans might not want to do. It also requires wallet apps to be compatible with Onename, a tall order in the fragmented world of cryptocurrency.
The company was a summer Y Combinator graduate and the site is live. They are actively fundraising.
Why is this tool interesting? Well, if you’ve ever tried to send or receive bitcoin using QR codes or by cutting and pasting a wallet code, you quickly discover that it’s a process fraught with danger. Did you scan the right QR code? Did you type in all the numbers? Did you read every single digit of the wallet address? Considering you could be feasibly be dumping a few hundred dollars into a black hole if you accidentally transpose a number, it’s a real concern.
“OneName gives you a Bitcoin username and a Bitcoin profile that make it easy for others send you bitcoins. Anyone can search for your profile on OneName or type your username into any wallet that supports ‘pay by username’ with OneName,” said Shea. In short, Onename makes bitcoin addresses “human-readable.”
The system is compatible with RushWallet and Electrum right now although they’ll be planning further integrations over the next few months. Sign-up is fairly simple: just select a name and confirm your identity by tweeting and Facebooking from your accounts. Once you’re confirmed, you can send and receive bitcoin just by typing usernames into compatible wallets. It’s a little esoteric but it could be a real timesaver.
“OneName usernames are registered in an open namespace and user data is embedded directly into the blockchain (the datastore that Bitcoin uses). Users are in control of their identities and their data cannot be modified or censored by anyone. Further, every user on OneName automatically gets a Bitcoin address and easy payments are baked into the network,” said Shea. “It’s Facebook for Bitcoin.”