Internet Opportunity


What went wrong with my community bank’s dot-com?

By Chris Lorence

It seemed to come from out of nowhere—a storm of interest and information around the release of a new Internet domain address called dot-bank (.bank). The communication to community banks by ICBA and others was extensive and tinged with urgency; you must secure your bank’s .bank today! There was a sunrise period, which was an early adopter program of sorts; and then there was a period of general availability of the new domains.

To help aid in the adoption of .bank domains, educational resources were produced, webinars held and articles written to increase awareness. The result: Thousands made the purchase of .bank, but actual use is causing some head-scratching.
As we near the end of the first quarter of 2016, and the dust has settled, perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and ask: What went wrong with my .com domain, and what do I do next with my .bank domain?

First, the basics: What the heck is a gTLD, what is ICANN and why is .bank so darn important?

gTLD is an abbreviation for “general top-level domain”—geek speak for the identifier at the conclusion of a website or email address. We typically recognize .com (common), .gov (government), .edu (education), and .org (nonprofit), etc. Up until now, only a few gTLDs have been administered and validated for authenticity. For example, only a government entity can use the top-level domain .gov. As a result, when you receive an email or visit a website with .gov in the address, you have a higher level of certainty that you are communicating with a legitimate government entity. By controlling which entities can use certain gTLDs, greater security and trust are ultimately provided to end users.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the entity that created and now administers the planet’s Internet Domain Name System. Started in 1998, ICANN, located in California, is the central authority that helps to keep the World Wide Web organized. In 2008, ICANN authorized the creation and availability of thousands of new gTLDs, including .bank.

Meanwhile, online scammers have continued to use email and fake websites to dupe people out of their logins and passwords. Unsuspecting people are sometimes coaxed to send money to complete strangers for reasons that sound legitimate, or to deposit counterfeit money orders or pay money to collect a supposedly long-lost inheritance.

Domain Registration Details

ICBA, in an exclusive alliance with EnCirca, is helping its members successfully navigate the .bank adoption process, including securing their desired domain names, providing them with educational resources and helping them successfully integrate and launch .bank domains.

For more information and member discounts, visit

Today, customers really aren’t sure who’s real and who’s not when using the Internet. As a result, a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations partnered to establish the financial top-level domain registry called fTLD Registry Services LLC in Washington, D.C. Its mission: to operate .bank domains on behalf of the global banking and insurance communities. The fTLD was granted the right to operate .bank domains on Sept. 25, 2014.

In a sort of chicken-and-egg dilemma, many community banks own their .bank gTLD but haven’t determined the need to deploy or when to deploy the new designation. Additionally, given the need for increased internal security measures like encryption and authentication to deploy .bank, there is a cost beyond reprinting business cards, revising websites and updating marketing materials. On the other hand, actually deploying .bank and educating consumers about its improved security is the only way that awareness, credibility and authenticity can be built to thwart fraudsters’ and hackers’ efforts.

In short, there is nothing wrong with your community bank’s domain. However, you now have a large opportunity to provide a meaningful benefit to your customers by adopting your .bank domain. Over time your customers will definitely feel a little better knowing for sure that it’s actually you on the other end of that website or email.

Chris Lorence ( is ICBA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.