Recently I was approached by a buyer based in China interested in purchasing one of the domain names owned by Double Negative. After a prolonged back and forth we agreed on a sales price and agreed to complete the transaction through an Escrow service.
Why not Escrow.com?
The transaction was for a significant amount of money and as such safety and security for both parties was important.
Having previously worked for Uniregistry and their domain sales platform DomainNameSales.com I had previous experience with Escrow.com and knew them to be a safe bet when it comes to domain name Escrow.
Unfortunately however things did not go to plan in that the buyer could not actually pay Escrow.com due to various (bank related) problems. I enquired to the Escrow.com support team as to whether they had any Chinese speaking staff members who could aid in resolving the issue. Unfortunately they did not.
Whilst I am appreciative that in the grand scheme of things the fees being charged are not extremely high I felt that the team at Escrow.com came across as being particularly disinterested in helping at all..
Given this, when the buyer suggested using DN.com.. after a little initial reluctance I decided to give it a try.
The buyer in this transaction was Chinese and he verified to me that he had previously transacted on high value deals through DN.com. Furthermore, being local meant that sending a payment to DN.com was no issue for the buyer.
I was initially reluctant because DN.com is relatively new in the grand scheme of things. Given however that DN.com is associated with 4.cn I decided that things were probably by the book.
I have never personally transacted on 4.cn but I regularly hear about sales that occur through the platform and they generally seem to have a good reputation. Perhaps more importantly I have never heard about any negative experiences with them.
One thing that did concern me somewhat was their heavy marketing through Namepros.com - they offered various deals through the forum platform which seemed a little informal in their approach for a company dealing with potentially massive domain Escrow transactions.
That said, having conversed with Cynthia at DN.com (see below) apparently this marketting effort resulted in a significant number of new customers whereby neither the buyer or the seller was a Chinese national.
The actual Escrow process was very standard.
- Buyer submits payment
- Seller transfers domain
- DN.com release payment.
DN.com do offer a 'Premier service' whereby they act as a middleman and the domain is actually transferred to them.
The Escrow fees are extremely competitive - better than any other service out there (that I know of). For a transaction in excess of $25,000 the fee is 0.8%. For the 'Premier Service' you pay 1.6%
One thing that I found particularly worrying was that the support form doesn't/didn't work. I tried submitting various questions (prior to completing the transaction) to which I received no response. A direct email followup to email@example.com did receive a reply (see below).
These issues are really quite significant in that if your website doesn't instill confidence you may push away customers. It is somewhat bemusing that you would develop a full Escrow platform and then not put a loading spinner on a form :P
The only other issue with the website was speed. On a number of occasions I found the website to be particularly slow which once again did not fill me with confidence.
At each step of the way you get an email so you do not need to keep logging in to see what is going on. In addition to that, Cynthia at DN.com emailed me directly to verify my payment details - I liked this touch. No-one wants their money going into someone elses account because of a typo :)
DN.com has a fantastic payment management system. You can hold currency in your account in CNY, USD, or EUR and you can convert between the three using their simple (albeit powerful) interface. Withdrawing funds was simple and painless.
History and statistics
I emailed Cynthia at DN.com to find out some further information about why they built DN.com and how things have been going so far.
Cynthia made some incredibly interesting points.
DN.com was built to fill a hole in the market. They are working towards connecting the Chinese market (where there is a significant amount of capital and an ever growing interest in domain names) with the international markets where the best domain names are held (due to earlier Internet adoption).
"We want to make DN.com your first choice to make domain business with Chinese and we are going to stride further into the global market after that."
Cynthia mentioned that Escrow.com is the market leader and has resources and (unspecified) advantages that they cannot match at present. They are however targetting a niche market and hoping to serve that niche well.
Personally I think DN.com is right up there with Escrow.com (see below).
I was very kindly provided with some statistics. They certainly make for interesting reading.
- Since launching (last September) they have completed over 300 transactions
- 2/3 of transactions are in USD
- Their transactions range in value from $150 to $400,000
- Most of their transactions are in the $1,000 to $5,000 range
- The largest transactions tend to be conducted in CNY by domestic users of 4.cn
- They have a number of clients who are 'regular' users, completing in excess of 10 transactions monthly.
Overall my experience with DN.com was really good. The only problems that I had were with the visuals of the platform. The service was second to none. With a little bit of polish DN.com would be my go to choice of Escrow service.
For so long in the industry Escrow.com has been the 'go to' Escrow service. There is however certainly another big player in DN.com
There are other Escrow services such as SEDO.com and Afternic.com but my personal view is that both of those platforms are outdated and out of touch. Services such as eCop.com and EscrowHill.com would sadly never get my business because they are too small to instill confidence in the security of my money and domains.
When I was researching DN.com to decide as to whether I was prepared to use it I was unable to find much in the way of significant hands on experiences.
If you are considering utilizing DN.com and have stumbled upon this post.. I absolutely reccomend DN.com, and would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.