The .com world has become overcrowded, making it difficult for financial institutions to stand out. But thousands of new domains — including .bank and .creditunion — are making their way to the internet. The new domains open up much needed real estate on the web, providing new marketing and branding opportunities.
In 2008, ICANN, the organization who manages the registration of internet domains, decided the world wide web needed more than just .com, .net and .org to work with. We’re not talking about the johnny-come-lately domains that no one really wants either (.us, .biz, .etc). They agreed to take domains in a whole new creative direction, allowing for just about anything — from .nike and .xbox to .cats and .dogs.
Beyond .bank and .creditunion, other new domains on the horizon that should interest financial marketers:
You can find a complete directory listing nearly 2,000 new domains here.
The American Bankers Association (ABA), Financial Services Roundtable and other industry organizations got in on this modern gold rush, establishing a new entity, fTLD Registry Services, to operate .bank “in the best interests of banks and their customers.”
fTLD, through its channel of registrars, will sell .bank domains only to verified members of the banking community. The vetting process for .bank will be both “thorough and secure,” the ABA promises. For banks, it will include charter verification through the applicant’s local and/or national regulators.
Beyond increased scrutiny in the approval process, the ABA says there will also be a higher level of security involved with .bank domains.
“In addition to strict registration requirements, the new domain will help prevent users from being redirected to fake bank websites, make it more difficult for criminals to create spoofed emails from a .bank website and provide a higher level of encryption. These features will enhance customer trust in an era of increasing cybersecurity threats.
The cost for .bank domains is still being determined. The ABA says that the heightened security features of .bank will translate to a higher cost than other domains that are lacking .bank’s enhanced protections.
Domains will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
The .bank Sunrise Period
If you own a registered trademark, you may register the trademark with ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse and apply for the .bank version of that domain name during the Sunrise Period before general availability.
Banks that have registered trademarks, you should make sure they are registered with ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse prior to May 1, 2015, when the Sunrise Period begins.
During the 30-day Sunrise Period trademark holders have an advance opportunity to register domain names corresponding to their marks before names are generally available to other eligible members of the community. Only trademark holders who have registered their trademark with ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse may purchase domains during the Sunrise Period.
The ABA says .bank domains should be available to the wider banking community on June 1, 2015, following the Sunrise Period.
You can learn more on the ABA’s website (http://www.aba.com/dotbank), where they provide thorough documentation, information and explanations about .bank.
The Bonanza is On!
It with be fascinating to see how creative banks will get with their new domain registrations. For starters, there are a couple hundred “First National” banks that have to be itching for a new, simpler URL. The big question is, who will be first… literally, first.bank. Then the next to go will be firstnational.bank, followed by 1st.bank and fnb.bank.
Here are some other intriguing ideas that could create some interesting situations, and perhaps some über pricey bidding wars:
It will be tricky for those institutions who start their name with bank to resolve the obvious issue: .bank will be stuck at whatever you come up with. So if your name is “Bank of the West” you might decide to pass on a .bank URL, because west.bank just won’t work.
The Big Boys Are Getting Their Own Domains
Many of the biggest banks in the world have ponied up the roughly US $185,000 it takes to register your own top-level domain, including Citi, Chase, Ally Bank and PNC. One bank, NAB (based in Australia), has registered for three, including its corporate brand name and two product sub-brands: .nab, .ubank and .netbank.
The Financial Brand counted 33 total domains registered by retail financial institutions, with 16 in the U.S., and 20 others from around the world.
|In the United States||Around The World|
|.americanexpress||.ubank for NAB|
|.jpmorgan||.netbank for NAB|
for the State Bank of India
|.allstate||.itau for Unibanco|
for Commonwealth in Australia
|–||.scb in China/td>|
for Commonwealth in Australia
CUNA to Offer .creditunion Domains Too
In May of 2012, CUNA submitted its application for the .creditunion domain. CUNA says it plans to offer the domains at roughly $100 to $200 per year.
CUNA will reportedly limit .creditunion domains only to credit union-related businesses much in the same way as .edu limits its registrations only to accredited schools. CUNA says it intends to regulate the application process to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place.
A CUNA survey including credit union CEOs found that nearly 70% said they would create an additional “.creditunion” domain name, or move their existing Web page to a new “.creditunion” address.