Industry Adoption of .Bank Growing, Albeit Slowly

In 2008, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization which manages the registration of internet domains, announced the expansion of web domains. More than just another .org or .biz, ICANN has expanded the world of domains into an unprecedented creative direction. In response, fTLD Registry Services was formed by a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations to operate the new .bank domain, with the goal of ensuring it is a more secure and identifiable space for banks and their customers to interact online. The end goal is to foster consumer trust in .bank domains.

When the .bank domain first launched, thousands of banks registered domain names, though very few jumped on board immediately. One reason is the upfront cost, but banking is also a conservative industry by nature, so a slow rollout was expected. Now that .bank is approaching its two-year anniversary, fTLD Managing Director Craig Schwartz says it's beginning to catch on. ".Bank is gaining acceptance within the industry," he said. Today, there are nearly 100 Wisconsin banks who own one or more .bank domain names, according to Schwartz, though not all of them have activated their domain. Nationally, about 40 percent of the banks in the U.S. have registered one or more .bank names, with about a 15 percent utilization rate as of the end of 2016. However, Schwartz says the trend is moving in the right direction. "We've seen an 18 percent increase in activations in 2017," he said. "That's associated with the availability of several new resources and third-party vendors."

For banks who are ready to consider the switch, fTLD has a wide variety of resources available to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. As recently as April 5, fTLD held an informational webinar about how to launch a compliant website using the .bank domain. A recording is available online at www.register.bank/pr-tools, along with several PDF guides that bank IT staff and decision-makers will find helpful. For example, fTLD offers a set of guides to leveraging a .bank domain, including an implementation planning checklist, planning and communications guide, executive guide to security requirements and a technical guide to security requirements. "We try to provide as much information in as digestible a way as we can so banks aren't overwhelmed by the process," said Schwartz. 

In addition to the guides, fTLD has a Success Stories page which is a collection of detailed case studies of banks who have already implemented .bank. "We profile banks monthly who have moved over," Schwartz explained. "These two-page case histories talk about why the bank decided to move, what speed bumps they may have run into and how they overcame them." Two Wisconsin examples have already been featured: Badger Bank, Fort Atkinson and Choice Bank, Oshkosh. 

fTLD also provides banks with a list of approved third-party vendors who can help the bank set up its website and email using their new domain in a way that complies with security requirements. "It answers the question 'do you know someone who can help us with this?'" Schwartz said. 

With all of these resources now available, fTLD anticipates bankers will feel more comfortable approaching the migration to the .bank domain and consider it as a viable option to offer greater security to their customers. "We continue to build and expand our resources to help relieve some of the pressure that might happen when bankers feel it's just too big for them to do," said Schwartz. "It demystifies the process of migration."

Learn more about fTLD Registry Services at www.register.bank.