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By: Kari English

The web is about to get a lot more complex. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit entity responsible for operating and managing the domain name system (.com, .org and .net), is planning to expand the available extensions and has accepted applications from entities that would like to own certain domains. For example, Delta Air Lines has applied for .delta so the airline would have complete control over who uses .delta and how it is used.

For just that reason, the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable have collaborated and applied for .bank and .insurance. Applying for one of these new domains is not easy or cheap. The application guidebook was 300 pages, the application asked 50 in-depth questions and the organizations spent $370,000 applying for just those two domains ($185,000 per application). But the price is worth it when you consider the potential cost of dealing with fraudulent banking websites.

“Consumers need to feel confident when they go to a .bank or .insurance site that a trusted third-party has vetted these domain names,” said Doug Johnson, ABA vice president of risk management in a press release. “New financial domains will be a detriment — rather than asset — if they cannot be trusted. That’s why our associations are leading this effort.”

The European Banking Authority noted similar concerns in a letter it sent to ICANN: “The potential for consumers of financial services to over-rely on what might be perceived as ‘regulatory endorsement’ of the companies operating under such TLDs is immense, and the risk for new types of fraud and ‘phishing’ can be enormous. The same can be said of the danger for confusion regarding the operation of legitimate websites by ‘true’ financial institutions and regulated entities. This could lead to the need for them to establish costly and complex legal or commercial initiatives in order to safeguard their trademarks from frauds and abuses.”

Unfortunately, one other application was submitted for the .bank domain by Radix Registry. Radix also applied for the .insurance domain, as did Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. and Auburn Park LLC.

ICANN expects to publish the results of its initial evaluations of applications in December or January, but the entire evaluation process could take much longer. Cross your fingers that the ABA and the FSR did not spend all that time and money for naught.

To learn more about generic top-level domains and the possible effects if the .bank ABA-FSR application is not chosen, click on the link below.

More Information on the .bank domain

Kari English is senior editor of BankNews.

Copyright (c) August 2012 by BankNews Media