Do you know who governs the Internet? Someone has to do it. Thanks to ICANN, the Internet maintains an appropriate level of organization and structure, while still being a place of intellectual freedom. ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is an oversight body that ensures unification of the Internet in many ways, namely, policy development for existing and new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
In 2008, ICANN approved a program to open the Internet to thousands of new gTLDs (that's your .com, .org, .edu, and the like). Then in 2011 ICANN launched the New gTLD Program. The program's goals include enhancing competition, consumer choice, and innovation through the introduction of new gTLDs.
In response to this opportunity the financial industry put together a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations to establish fTLD Registry Services (fTLD). Each gTLD must be managed by a registry in order to be used. fTLD operates the .bank gTLD on behalf of the global banking community as of September 25, 2014. Additionally, its application for .insurance is currently in contracting.
In December 2014, fTLD released a Registrant Eligibility Policy to begin the process of distributing .bank gTLDs.
"This Policy sets forth the classifications of businesses and organizations that are permitted to register domain names in .BANK, and a non-enumerated list of documents that they may be requested to provide to establish their eligibility. This Policy also incorporates an appeals mechanism by which a business or organization that has been denied eligibility may seek a review of that denial."
The addition of new gTLDs will expand the Internet and improve organization. It not only opens up flexibility for naming, but it also allows for stronger security.
fTLD commits to operating .bank in a protected, trusted and more secure manner than traditional domains. Partnering with Symantec, there are verification and re-verification processes to ensure registrations are only made to qualified entities in an expensive, multi-step process. This is to guarantee that consumers will be safe when they go to a .bank web address. Partnering with Verisign, fTLD will provide enhanced security requirements. At the same time fTLD will provide advanced monitoring and detection systems. The extra security will be sure to result in elevated cost as compared to traditional domains, but the cost will be distributed across all .bank users and should be well worth the money.
In addition to enhanced security, the .bank domain will also give you a great marketing edge. There are some naming restrictions to make sure that the web address appropriately matches your institution name, so it will be easily identifiable as your bank. Get ready to see YourInstitution.bank!
General Availability for .bank is estimated to be in June 2015 for eligible members of the global banking community. If you'd like to get your hands on your new domain early (May 2015), perhaps the Sunrise and Founders registration periods would be a good fit for you. You can register as part of the Sunrise period if you are an eligible member of the global banking community and have registered your trademark with ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse to register domains. If you are a founding member of fTLD (see list: https://www.ftld.com/WP/endorsers/), you can register as part of the Founders period, which will take place immediately before the General Availability period. As is fair, domains will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis in all registration periods.
Read more about .bank and check out registration info at ftld.com.