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Introducing Handshake

Handshake is a naming system for the internet. Naming systems for the internet or otherwise allow us to assign unique names to things. The Handshake name ‘namecity’ for example has been assigned to this website. No other website has been assigned or could be assigned the Handshake name ‘namecity’. If a name could be assigned to more than one thing we’d have all sorts of problems. For example imagine if a house address could be assigned to more than one house. Imagine the sorts of problems you’d have with deliveries.

Have you heard of DNS? DNS stands for domain name system and is another naming system for the internet. At the center of DNS is the organization ICANN whereas at the center of Handshake is a blockchain. This is the major difference between the two naming systems. Handshake offers a number of advantages over DNS that we’ll delve into below.

The case for Handshake

When you buy a .com domain you’re not really buying it; you’re renting it. You’re renting it from the owner of the domain .com. Yes, we’re renting the domain namecity.io. We’re renting it from the owner of the domain .io for about $30 a year. We call the domain .io a top-level domain (TLD) and the domain namecity.io a second-level domain (SLD). “I want a top-level domain” I hear you say. A DNS top-level domain like .com or .io would not only cost north of $100,000 but would also take several years to be approved, if it ever got approved. Enter Handshake.

Handshake removes the barriers to owning a top-level domain. The average cost of a Handshake top-level domain would be no more than about $100 and there’s no approval process. How to own a Handshake top-level domain is beyond the scope of this article but Namebase has plenty of resources on the topic. The biggest selling point of Handshake top-level domains however is not their affordability or the fact there’s no approval process; the biggest selling point is the fact they’re unconfiscatable. Ownership and settings of Handshake top-level domains are recorded in a blockchain (a ledger in which it’s impossible to erase entries). No one besides the owner is able to edit the settings of a Handshake top-level domain.

Resolving Handshake domains

The major browsers don’t yet resolve Handshake domains out of the box. This means if you entered the Handshake domain .namecity for example into the address bar of a major browser no page would load and all you would see is an error message. (You actually shouldn’t enter .namecity; enter namecity/ or http://namecity/ instead.) We’re expecting the major browsers to resolve Handshake domains out of the box as adoption grows but we’re not there yet. It’s still early days. In the meantime we can resolve Handshake domains by using a resolver, browser or browser plugin that supports Handshake. You need to install only one of the solutions below.

Handshake resolvers

Fingertip (recommended)



Handshake browsers

Beacon (recommended)


Puma Browser

Handshake browser plugins

Resolvr (Firefox)

LinkFrame (Chrome)

Handshake and emojis

Yes it’s true. Emojis are permitted in Handshake domains. For example you could have a domain like namecity.🐸 or even 🏷🌃.🐸. But please be aware that not all browsers will render the emojis in a domain. For example namecity.🐸 might be displayed namecity.xn—dp8h instead by some browsers. The above will work by using a browser that supports emoji domains.

Emoji browsers

Puma Browser



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