Banks and financial institutions should note that applications for .bank domain names can now be made.  The “sunrise period” for banks with their trade marks already registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) is from 18 May 2015 17 June 2015

During the sunrise period, businesses with their trade marks registered with the TMCH will have priority in registering second-level domain names containing their trade marks in advance of the general public, e.g. charlesschwab.bank.  The new domain has enhanced security requirements that will make it more secure than the traditional .com domain. 

Why register a .bank domain?

The .bank registry (fTLD) was jointly established by a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations including the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable to operate the new gTLD for the benefit of the global banking community.  The use of the .bank domain will identify a company’s business to consumers immediately and enhanced security requirements are in place in order to ensure that .bank domains are trusted and secure. 

There are strict eligibility requirements and only verified members of the banking community can be registered.  Vetting will include charter verification by the applicant’s local or national regulators.  Therefore, consumers can be assured that only legitimate financial institutions can use the .bank domain name extension.  With current cyber security concerns, it will boost consumer confidence to know that they can rely on the domain to access genuine banking websites.  The use of the .bank domain should also help to combat online scams such as phishing.  According to recent estimates from the Gartner Group, phishing costs American banks and credit card issuers US$2.8bn per annum. 

The domain must also correspond to the registrant’s trade mark or trade name and must not be likely to deceive or cause material detriment to a significant portion of the banking, insurance and/or financial services communities, its customers or internet users.  This will help to prevent trade mark pirates or speculators from hijacking a bank’s name.  

Domains will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.  Therefore, even a bank that already has a .com domain name registration, will need to make a separate application for the .bankversion of that name.  This could be an opportunity for banks to re-energise their brand names or to launch a new online identity.   

Applications can be made with fTLD approved registrars.  Details available here:https://www.ftld.com/WP/registrars/approved-registrars/

Enhanced Security

In addition to the strict registration requirement, fTLD requires compliance with an enhanced set of requirements beyond those required by the operators of other commercially available gTLDs, including:

  • Mandatory re-verification of the registration data every two years or at domain renewal, whichever comes first.
  • Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) ensures that internet users not being misdirected to fake sites.
  • Email Authentication to mitigate spoofing, phishing and other malicious activities.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication to ensure that any change to registration data is made only by authorized users of the registered entity.
  • Enhanced Encryption to ensure security of communication over the Internet to prevent eavesdropping, data tampering, etc.
  • Prohibition of Proxy/Privacy Registration Services to ensure full disclosure of domain registration information.

Symantec has been retained to serve as the Registry Verification Agent for fTLD and it will be responsible for reviewing the information provided to confirm a registrant’s eligibility for a domain. 

Cost

Registration fees will be set by the individual .bank registrars and may vary depending on the registrar and the additional services that they offer.  However, due to the enhanced requirements, the operational costs of the domain is higher.  Therefore, registrants should expect the cost of registration of a .bank domain to be higher than for a traditional domain.  Therefore, it is important for banks to review their trade mark portfolio and trade names to prioritise the names that they wish to protect.

Timetable.

Click here to view table.

Banks that have not already registered with the TMCH still have time to apply to the TMCH to register their trade marks and to take advantage of the sunrise period for the .bank domain name.  The TMCH also issues real-time notifications to alert trade mark owners if a third party seeks to register a name that conflicts with the owner’s marks registered with the TMCH and provides a process for objection.

More gTLDs on the Way

fLTD has also been granted the right to operate .insurance domain names.  Further details and the timetable will be available soon.