Financial services firms will be able to use '.bank' domains from next year after a collection of industry organisations struck a deal with Icann.
In 2011 the Icann board gave the go-ahead for a raft of new generic top-level domains. However, the prospect of financial services-related options caused consternation in some quarters. In 2012 the European Banking Authority called on Icann to ditch plans to allow '.bank' and '.fin', warning that they could be used by phishers to trick customers.
Icann has sought to allay fears by giving the task of operating '.bank' to fTLD Registry Services, a group run by the American Bankers Association (ABA), Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), and others. The ABA and FSR have developed 31 standards for firms using '.bank' that are designed to help prevent users from being redirected to fake sites, to make it more difficult for criminals to create spoofed emails from a '.bank' site, and to provide a higher level of encryption.
Frank Keating, president and CEO, ABA, says: "Our organisations took the lead on this to ensure that the banking industry - not outsiders - would operate '.bank,' and that only legitimate members of the banking community could have a '.bank' site."
Many financial institutions have also applied for their own domains, including .Barclays, .BofA, .Citi, .HSBC, .Visa and .Amex. But with so many new domains coming onto the market, customers could still be duped, the Trademark Clearinghouse warned earlier this year. Its data shows that some of Britain's most valued banking brands, including Barclays, Lloyds Bank, NatWest and HSBC, had been pre-reserved under the .Web, .Online, .Shop, .Blog and .App domain names.