Digital Brain
digital brain
digital brain

Global Generic Domains for Financial Institutions: Worth the Price of Admission?

June 2015 Financial Services Bulletin 2 minutes read

In 2008, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN“), the non-profit organization responsible for creating and maintaining internet domains, approved a program to create new generic top level domains (“gTLD“). In response, an international consortium of financial institutions, financial services trade associations and insurance companies founded fTLD Registry Services, LLC (“fTLD“) to obtain ownership of the .bank and .insurance gTLDs. In May 2012, fTLD submitted applications for the community-based gTLDs and was officially granted authority to operate .bank on September 25, 2014, and .insurance on February 19, 2015.

fTLD has since developed guidelines setting out eligibility requirements for the .bank gTLD, with similar guidelines expected soon with respect to the .insurance gTLD.

Only verified members of the banking community are eligible to register for a .bank gTLD. Such members include:

  • state, regional and provincial banks and savings associations that are chartered and supervised by a government regulatory authority;
  • service providers principally owned by such banks or savings associations, on approval by the registry operator board of fTLD; and
  • associations composed of state, regional, provincial and national banks, on approval by the registry operator board of fTLD.

In addition to meeting the organizational requirements set out above, registrants must also comply with dozens of enhanced security requirements and processes. These include real-time abuse monitoring, multi-factor authentication, distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection and encryption practices with at least a 30-year security strength timeframe. Registrants must also agree to abide by fTLD’s acceptable use and prohibited activities policies and re-validate their “WHOIS” information on a semi-annual basis. As a result of fTLD’s increased operational costs for verifying and authenticating applicants, the cost for registering a .bank gTLD is higher than other conventional domain names.

Note that the Bank Act prohibits any person or entity other than a bank regulated by OSFI to use the word “bank” to indicate a financial services business in Canada. Accordingly, if OSFI finds an entity using a .bank gTLD in contravention of that prohibition (which may also constitute a criminal offence), the entity would be required to relinquish its .bank gTLD irrespective of the costs involved.

Currently, fTLD has established a sunrise period to register a .bank gTLD, ending on June 17, 2015. To be eligible, in addition to the requirements described above, the associated trade-mark must already be registered federally and with ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse. At the end of the sunrise period, fTLD’s founding members will be given a five day period to register their domains.

On June 23, 2015, the .bank gTLD will be open to all eligible members of the global banking community granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

While there are considerable compliance and regulatory hurdles, a .bank or .insurance gTLD may carry significant competitive advantages for financial institutions, including innovative marketing opportunities through defined branding with a global scope, enhanced security as a result of fTLD’s authentication and eligibility requirements and reduced risk of “typosquatting” (whereby a party registers a domain name with a common misspelling of your web address) and “cybersquatting” (whereby a party registers your trade-name or acronym as a web address in bad faith, hoping to then sell it to you at an inflated price).

by Darcy Ammerman and Shahram Khalili

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2015

Related Publications (5 Posts)

Featured Insight

Real Estate Litigation: Summer Highlights

Even in the summer months, the legal news does not let up. Here are some recent decisions and legislative developments as we head into the 2021 fall season.

Read More
Sep 21, 2021
Featured Insight

McMillan’s Employment and Labour Webinar

Join McMillan's annual Employment and Labour Seminar on Tuesday, October 5th as we address significant legal developments and provide practical advice on responding to employee issues.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Featured Insight

Supreme Court of Canada Confirms: CCAA Super-Priority Charges Rank Ahead of CRA’s Deemed Trusts

Canada v. Canada North Group Inc. provided much needed clarity regarding the order of priority for unremitted source deductions in restructuring proceedings.

Read More
Sep 17, 2021
Featured Insight

McMillan’s ESG Strategy Sessions

The COVID-19 pandemic and increased concerns over environmental and social issues, such as climate change and systemic racism, have prompted conversations throughout global capital markets.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Featured Insight

Divisional Court confirms Environmental Significance of Ministerial Zoning Orders and Importance of Consultation under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993

Review of Divisional Court decision: Ontario’s compliance with Environmental Bill of Rights in passing Bill 197, particularly re: Ministerial Zoning Orders

Read More
Sep 13, 2021