OpenAlias: Mastering the Fine Art of Simple Privacy

When one thinks of Monero, the first thing they may think of is privacy. XMR has the reputation of being “the privacy coin”. But one thing Monero is not known for is simplicity. Even when engaging in something as basic as sending or receiving Monero, the addresses can be as long as 95 characters. The OpenAlias Project was created to simplify the transaction process for even the least crypto savvy user while adding yet another layer of privacy for both sender as well as recipient.

The public viewability of all transactions on a most blockchains is definitely one of the technology’s most well-known features. However, this feature can negate the anonymous nature of crypto if one’s address is tied to the identity of the owner, as is the case for many websites soliciting donations or sales via crypto.

A specific crypto address can be found to be associated with a specific person or organization. A good example of this is an address from an account on a crypto exchange that follows KYC regulations. Once an address is discovered to belong to a specific person or group, it can become possible to look up that address on that particular cryptocurrency’s blockchain explorer and determine how much coin has been transferred to or from that address.The identity of the initiator of a crypto transaction may also be determined by tracking the IP address on the merchants website.

The uniqueness of OpenAlias is that it is a TXT-DNS record on a fully-qualified domain name, thus taking full advantage of an existing infrastructure as opposed to building a new one from scratch. The alias for the impossible-to-remember crypto address is a domain name, and under the Domain Name system, there can only be one domain name of its kind.

In other words, there is only one http://example.com as opposed to http://example.org or http://example.net, making the scenario in which one alias points to two different crypto addressees impossible. Other aliasing standards like having a password like “Dan123” or “givememoney” be (accidentally or intentionally) duplicated and point to more than one crypto wallet.

The average person who may be unfamiliar with cryptocurrency will have an easier time remembering the domain name of their favorite web site rather than a 95-character alphanumeric string.

While OpenAlias is the brainchild of the Monero Core Team, it can be configured to allow for the acceptance of any cryptocurrency. Although to date, the only known implementation has been for Monero and Bitcoin wallets. As time passses and the popularity of OpenAlias increases, implementations should emerge for other popular cryptocurrencies. Innovations like OpenAlias may one day make cryptocurrency as common among billions of people as email.