DOT-BANK: New Domains offer Security, Branding opps

Boelter + Lincoln, blog, dot-bank, marketing

It’s not easy to stand out among the vast sea of .coms and .nets across the gargantuan cyberspace we call the internet. Any small distinction can help separate one site from another.

Soon, banks and insurance companies will have a small claim to some unique turf with the introduction of .bank later this month and .insurance later this year.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that manages the registrations of internet names, opened up more creative domain suffixes in 2008. Instead of using generic top level domain (gTLD) names like .com, some of the biggest banks in the world and the U.S. took advantage of custom names – now there’s a .citi, a .chase and a .allstate among dozens of others.

In 2011 the American Bankers Association (ABA), Financial Services Roundtable and other banking industry organizations partnered up to establish the fTLD Registry Services, which last year was given permission to run .bank domains for the wider banking community. The ABA has a great FAQs page that provides some good tips on registering for these names.

With the sunrise period for banks with registered trademarks having just ended June 17, it’s almost time for general availability – June 24. And because those go on a first-come, first-serve basis, there could be a huge rush to get those names registered. After all, there’s more than one “First National” and “Security” bank out there.

Although the .bank domains will cost a bit more than traditional .coms, the benefits will far outweigh the higher price; starting with security.

Even the biggest banks aren’t safe from these online attacks. It was only last year that JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., fell victim to a cyberattack that compromised the accounts of 76 million Americans and another 7 million small businesses.

While mobile banking will be the norm in a few years, online banking is an absolute necessity for banks today. Protecting those sites from data breaches is a must. The fTLD is requiring tighter restrictions than current domains. There are verification and re-verifications to ensure only legitimate banks can obtain a .bank domain and domain name system security extensions (DNSSEC) will ensure that internet users are landing on the actual bank website. There also will be email authentication, multi-factor authentication, strong encryptions, prohibition of proxy/privacy registration services, and all domains must be hosted on .bank nameservers. The fTLD website has answers to additional FAQs, including how to register.

The .bank domains will create unique marketing opportunities in the name alone. Despite dozens of banks having the same name, this is a chance for those banks to separate themselves from all the internet clutter.

The name could even be part of a rebranding effort in the future and, in fact, probably should be. But it doesn’t mean that you need redevelop your brand overnight. Getting the domain now and making it public later this year or next year would help you flesh out your current brand or allow you time to redevelop your brand.

Even if you’re not sold on getting a .bank domain just yet, remember that all of the good .com website names are gone and that the .bank names will be gone soon, too. Maybe I’ll be logging into “” in the not-so-distant future.