In a .Anything World, the Race Is On to Protect Your Brand


As the Internet expands, the familiar .com, .net and .org domain names are making room for thousands of .anythings. Financial institutions used to operating in a yourbrand.com world must decide how to react to new Internet real estate that will soon include .bank and .creditunion. New .bank domains are available for purchase June 24, which means the race is on to secure your brand.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the agency that regulates and governs domain name policy and allocates top-level domains, or TLDs – has opened up this new Internet real estate. ICANN has determined an expansion in the number of TLDs – the unique identifiers immediately to the right of the last dot in an Internet URL address – is essential for the continued health of the Internet.

New .bank domains are available for purchase June 24, which means the race is on to secure your brand.

Does securing additional second-level domains make sense for your organization? New generic domains include .pizza, .paris, .insurance, .payment and hundreds more. Several brand owners are also launching TLDs, including .allstate, .americanexpress and .jpmorganchase. Although yourbrand.pizza is not a likely candidate, yourbrand.nyc may make sense for a New York-based financial institution, for example.

To help create trusted, protected, secure and easily identifiable financial sites, the American Bankers Association and others formed fTLD to operate .bank and .insurance. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will operate .creditunion. 

Only verified members of the banking community and their service providers can register a .bank second-level domain. All applicants must undergo a thorough verification process, and comply with strict registry operating policies and requirements. The controls in the new .bank 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.

Almost any word and combination of words is allowed as a second-level domain with .com, but the same is not true for a .bank domain. Only names corresponding to the owner's brand are allowed. For example, your institution could use yourbrand.bank, or combine the brand with a word or geographic location, as in yourbrandmissouri.bank.

A partial match to a brand is also a possibility. If your brand is XYZ Savings and Loan, for instance, you could obtain xyzsavings.bank or some other shortened form of your name.

Beginning June 24, second-level domains using .bank are available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis. Even if you are unsure if your financial institution will offer services through the new .bank TLD, you should move quickly to evaluate which second-level domains may be of interest to your organization.

In the same way, credit unions should work closely with CUNA to evaluate your options. CUNA has not identified general availability dates for .creditunion. 

Financial institutions need to act quickly to secure your virtual real estate. Implementing new financial service domains in an ever-expanding Internet could become an important competitive advantage for your financial institution.

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