.bank

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Status: Delegated
Registry: FTLD Registry Services LLC
Registry Backend: Verisign
Date Implemented: 09 January 2015
Type: Generic
Category: Commerce
nTLDStats
Registrations: 2,735
Parked Domains: 1,656
Parked Domain %: 60.55 %
Important Dates
Delegation: 09 January 2015
General Availability: 24 June 2015

More Information: NTLDStatsLogo.png

.bank is a TLD delegated in ICANN's New gTLD Program. fTLD Registry Services LLC manages the TLD and is its Registry. The proposed application succeeded and was delegated to the Root Zone on 09 January, 2015.[1]

Applicants

  1. fTLD Registry Services LLC, a joint project between American Bankers Association (ABA) & BITS, the technology policy arm of the Financial Services Roundtable.[2] Its application has been filed as a Community Application.
  2. Radix (Dotsecure Inc.)[3], a subsidiary business established by Directi Group to apply for 31 new gTLDs.[4] The International Banking Federation filed a community objection against the application.[5]

Application Details

ABA and BITS

The partnership between ABA and BITS for the .bank domain was created to ensure the safety and security of the industry's online operations and customers' information. “Consumers need to feel confident that when they go to a .bank or .insurance site, that a trusted third-party has vetted these domains names,” said Doug Johnson, ABA vice president of risk management. “New financial domains will be a detriment – rather than asset – if they cannot be trusted. That’s why our groups are leading this effort.” [6]

The .bank application by American Bankers Association (ABA) and BITS is headed by Craig Schwartz, former Chief gTLD Registry Liaison of ICANN. He served as General Manager for Registry Programs of the project.[7] According to Schwartz, ABA and BITS will establish a new company that will be responsible for filing the application for .bank. A community-designated application was filed to avoid the ICANN auction in anticipation for any possible string contention from other applications. Schwartz explained, “We’ve looked at the scoring and while it may not come into play at all, we do believe we can meet the requisite score. But we’re certainly mindful of what’s happening in the space, there’s always the possibility of contention." He added that their plan is to begin the operations of .bank as a business to business and it will be primarily used for secure inter-bank transactions and will partner with several ICANN accredited registrars able to meet the company’s security requirements.[8]

In April 2011, ABA & BITS announced that they signed a contract with Verisign to serve as their exclusive provider of back-end registry services.[9]

In December 2011, the partnership submitted to ICANN 31 proposed requirements to ensure the stability and resiliency of “high security” gTLDs like .bank and .pay, covering topics from registration, acceptable use policies, abusive conduct, law enforcement, compliance registrar relations and data security. BITS calls the proposed gTLDs intended for the use of the financial industry as “fTLDs.” In addition, the organization strongly urged the internet governing body to accept the standards proposed by the Security Standards Working Group (SSWG). Seventeen companies are endorsing BITS proposal.[10] The 2011 Proposed Security, Stability and Resiliency Requirements for Financial TLDs submitted by BITS to ICANN is available here.

The ABA and Roundtable initiative is endorsed by the Australian Bankers' Association, American Bankers Insurance Association, British Bankers' Association, European Banking Federation, Independent Community Bankers of America, the International Banking Federation, and numerous financial services institutions.[11]

The ABA hopes that a .bank TLD would allow a clearly delineated online banking community to develop in a way that phishing and malware, and spoof bank sites, are made more evident by their lack of a .bank extension. They have recommended 31 security measures and authentication requirements to ICANN for the delegation of .bank to any applicant.[12]

Domain Security Company Ends Pursuit of .bank

On August 31, 2010, Mary Iqbal, CEO of Domain Security Company filed an application (85, 120, 345) with the United States Patent Office (USPT) as the rightful owner of the .bank intended for domain name registration services.[13] A similar patent application for .bank was also filed by the company in Pakistan. According to Iqbal, she had been working on the idea for several years and she is serious about her application with ICANN to become the registry operator of the .bank TLD. On January 10 2012, the USPTO issued the patent no. 4, 085, 335 for .bank to Asif LLC, the previous name of Domain Security Company.[14]

However on January 19, the USPTO cancelled the patent because of error. In a letter sent to the company’s lawyer, the USPTO explained that a protest letter filed against the trademark was not processed before entering it in the Supplemental Registration. Under Trademark Act 1, 2, 3 and 45... TLD would not be perceived as trademark.” The trademark office cited it has the “broad authority to correct mistakes.”[15][16]

On June 12, 2012 Domain Security Company announced, via a post on their website, that they they will no longer pursue .bank and "will no longer be participating in the ICANN application process for new Top Level Domains." [17]

Radix

Radix received a GAC Early Warning as an entire applicant, where each one of the applicants was flagged by the U.S. Government. This seems to be the only time a portfolio applicant had all of their applications warned. The issue does not deal with the technical capabilities or thematic content of their applications, but rather the inclusion of an email address associated with the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation. It seems that Radix included correspondence with this address as a recommendation with each of their applications.[18]

Reactions

Companies within the financial sector have had varying reactions regarding the proposed .bank gTLD. Some believe that it will help curb incidences of domain name abuse. Avivah Litan, an analyst from Gartner, said that a TLD dedicated to banks and banking will provide more security because monitoring would be easier. Litan explained that under the .com TLD, anyone can register a domain name. Forrester Research marketing analyst Jeff Ernst said that several big banks are considering applying for their own TLD registry, while smaller banks are considering using a .bank domain name.[19]

Reaction from OSFI Canada

On November 13, 2009, the Office of the Superintendent of the Financial Institutions in Canada (OSFI) informed ICANN through a letter addressed to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom about the possible problems in connection with Canada's Bank Act that would be faced by entities applying for a .bank gTLD. Under the provisions of the regulation, any person is prohibited from using the word bank to indicate or describe a financial service other than banks regulated by OSFI. In lieu, the OSFI explained that any entity in Canada found using a .bank gTLD in violation of Canada's Bank Act will be required to abandon the domain name regardless of associated costs or expenses incurred.[20]

Concerns from European Banking Authority (EBA)

On February 2012, the European Banking Authority expressed its concerns to ICANN regarding the possible risks of proposed financial TLDs such as .bank and .fin. According to EBA chair Andrea Enria, consumers may assume that a particular operator of a particular site under the .bank domain space is a regulated entity by a competent authority in their own country. EBA was also concerned with the possibility that banks and other regulated entities would need to spend significant amounts of money to protect their trademarks from abuses and frauds. Enria also cited that the benefits in operating the proposed TLD is not yet established and there are still technical issues that needs to be discussed and resolved. EBA requested ICANN to ban any applications for the two proposed financial TLDs.[21][22] [23]

ICANN COO Akram Atallah sent a response letter to Enria and explained that the new gTLD program does not prohibit the application for the two possible gTLDs in question. Atallah also informed Enria about the available objections which can be utilized by EBA such as the string confusion objection, legal rights objection, limited public interest objection, and community objection. In addition, he also cited that the Governmental Advisory Committee may also provide advice or an early warning regarding the proposed new gTLDs. Atallah encouraged EBA to monitor the ICANN website until the closing period of the application process to determine the actual applicants for the .bank and .fin gTLDs and to work with them regarding their concerns on the use of the strings.[24]

European Commission Communiqué

The European Commission flagged both .bank applications outside of ICANN's defined remediation processes.

Just after ICANN's GAC issued its Early Warnings, which are advice given from one GAC member country to an applicant warning it of potential issues within its application, the European Commission issued a letter to all applicants within the new gTLD program. The letter highlights 58 applications that "could raise issues of compatibility with the existing legislation .. and/or with policy positions and objectives of the European Union." It notes a desire to open a dialogue with each offending applicant.

The Commission specifically notes that this objection is not a part of the GAC Early Warning process, and goes on to note that "the Commission does not consider itself legally bound to [ICANN] processes," given that there is not legal agreement between the two bodies.[25][26]

References