In recent years ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the group responsible for domain conventions, released several new TLDs (Top-Level Domains). These new TLDs allow businesses and institutions to have a lot more variety than the traditional .com, .net and .org – and importantly, the .bank domain comes with a lot of important rules that every bank needs to understand. If you are a bank looking to buy and adopt a .bank domain, it’s essential that you go into this decision with a full understanding so you can determine what’s going to be best for your institution.
In the simplest terms, banks, savings institutions and their governing bodies, who are supervised by governmental regulations are eligible to purchase a .bank domain. This exclusivity is important, because it means that these TLDs can’t be used by financial bodies which are unregulated and potentially exist to defund their customers.
Credit unions are also ineligible for use of the .bank TLD, as they do not fall within the specific qualification guidelines. There is a .creditunion TLD that is being planned for a 2016 rollout via CUNA (Credit Union National Association).
Benefits of adopting .bank domain
While there’s a certain gravitas that comes with appending .bank to your domain, there are also added benefits of increased security, trust, and verification beyond what exists within non-banking TLDs like .com, .org and .net. Owning and maintaining a .bank TLD lets your customers know that you are keeping up with all of the needed regulations.
There’s also the benefit of a fresh start with your branding. Moving to a .bank domain can be catchy and memorable and may represent a clean break from a domain that may not be ideal for your institution.
Considerations before making the switch
It might be tempting to apply for your .bank TLD right now, but there are a few things to consider first.
- Security: Assuming your domain is https and is currently hosted as a .com or .net, there are already security elements that in place regarding encryption and authentication. However, upgrading to a .bank TLD requires you to upgrade your certificates to be in full compliance. After all, part of the reason for upgrading is to let visitors know you’re holding your website to a higher standard of security.
- Redirecting: You are currently allowed to redirect .bank domains to .com domains, which may change in the future to only allow .bank as your primary domain. fTLD, currently responsible for regulating use of the .bank TLD, says it will “continue to study the issue of redirection within the .BANK domain in order to understand the TLD’s adoption and usage, and the prevalence of it in the .BANK zone. Upon completion of the study, fTLD will publish its findings and communicate any further guidance and/or requirements for URL redirection.”
- SEO: Changing your domain is not only a significant business decision but can have a devastating impact on your search engine optimization rankings. All domains have domain authority and its key to determine what the authority of your current domain is.
- User Experience: It goes without saying, but changing your domain name will cause some initial disruption to your site visitors. It’s important to craft messaging or a campaign around the new domain so that visitors are comfortable that they are in right place and aren’t alarmed by the change.
- Marketing Costs: Your website URL likely appears on many internal and external marketing and communications pieces, so it’s important to consider the cost of changing these to reflect your new domain.
- Migration Plan: If moving permanently to the .bank domain, any relevant mobile apps, internal systems and third-party vendor sites used will each need to update relevant links which may be hard-coded or have other resource and timing requirements. Email service providers may also need to be updated to comply with requirements for stronger security using Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys identified mail.
- Communications Plan: Everyone from your IT department to branch staff members to your customers will need to know that your institution is moving to a new domain. Part of the allure of the .bank domain is the extra security it provides. A communications plan will be needed to delivering the right messages to the right audiences about these benefits and the timing of their rollout.
The next steps if .bank is right for you
If your bank meets the criteria for taking on the .bank TLD, and you’ve decided internally that it would be a good fit for your brand, you can begin the process of registering and migrating to the new domain. After registering, your request will go through an approval process to verify that your bank meets all necessary requirements. If you’re approved, you are the proud owner of a .bank TLD which you can either use as your primary domain, or as a redirect as allowed by fTLD.
Additional reference information
Please reference the below links for additional information about .bank domain eligibility, registration and more.