In 2008, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (“IANA”), the nonprofit organization overseeing global IP address allocation, began the process of creating and auctioning new top-level domains. Since then, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), has confirmed a number of new ‘generic’ top level domains (“gTLD”), including two new “community-based gTLDs” for the financial services community, <.bank> and <.insurance>. “Community-based gTLDs” are top level domain names that are restricted to a specific community. fTLD Registry Services, LLC (“fTLD”), an organization founded and operated by a consortium of banks and insurance companies and their trade associations, was granted the right to operate <.bank>, on September 25, 2014, and <.insurance> on February 19, 2015.

What sets <.bank> and <.insurance> apart from other gTLDs, including <.com> and <.ca>, is that they will offer a trusted, protected and secure internet environment for participating organizations and the customers they serve. Only verified members of the banking and insurance communities, as applicable, will be able to register such domain names. No proxy or anonymous registrations will be allowed and, prior to activation, all registrations will be subject to a comprehensive verification process conducted by Symantec.

Registrants of <.bank> and <.insurance> domain names will also be required to comply with a number of additional controls, including enhanced encryption standards, options for distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection and mitigation via real-time monitoring and detection, email authentication and multi-factor authentication and escalated compliance and enforcement requirements and abuse monitoring.

Registration will be on a first come, first served basis, with no automatic transfer from a <.com> domain name to <.bank> or to <.insurance>. Organizations must instead re-register.

The <.bank> domain names will generally become available for registration to verified members of the banking community on June 24, 2015. However, founding members of fTLD will be able to register beforehand. In addition, verified members who have registered their trademarks with ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse prior to May 13, 2015 will benefit from a 30 day sunrise period beginning May 18, 2015 and ending June 17, 2015, during which time they will have an advance opportunity to register domain names that are exact matches to their registered trademarks.

The timing for <.insurance> domain name registration has not yet been released by fTLD, although it is expected that such domain names will become available later this year.