.bank: One Year Later

By Craig Schwartz

One year ago, the .bank domain was launched by fTLD Registry Services and since then, more than 2,550 domestic banks and 250 international banks have together registered nearly 6,000 domain names for their institutions. The .bank domain provides banks not only with a higher level of customer security, but with greater brand power that can enhance the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

Navigating the transition

Small and midsize banks are finding a sweet spot with this transition—many have turned on their new .bank sites within six months of initiating the process. By partnering with approved registrars and applying basic project management principles, they are already reaping the benefits of the .bank name.

For Citizens National Bank, a $617 million institution in Paintsville, Ky., the transition was a straightforward process. A small team of marketing and IT staff spearheaded the project with the help of the bank’s CEO. Working with their core processor—who took on the bulk of the technical configuration responsibilities—the team rolled out their new domain name in September 2015, just four months after the project began.

For larger banks, the process may be more time consuming, as it typically involves more coordination with third-party service providers and higher costs associated with collateral updates and customer notifications, but fTLD continues to share lessons learned and other resources to help banks of all sizes as they undergo the technical aspects of the domain migration.

Enhancing customer security

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the .bank domain is the added security it provides. To protect the verified members of the global banking community, fTLD employs enhanced consumer protection safeguards designed to mitigate malicious activities including cybersquatting, spoofing and phishing. Additionally, the .bank name lets customers know—with certainty—that they are doing business with a verified member of the banking community, which elevates the overall trust of the bank brand.

“The security related to .bank is paramount,” says Ramona Laney, AVP and marketing officer for Citizens National Bank. “In the future, it will set us up to stand out from other competitors in branding and marketing.”

Leveraging the brand power of .bank

The .bank name has also helped institutions like Lead Bank, a community bank in Missouri, to boost the power of their corporate brand. When the bank changed its name in 2010, they struggled to find a suitable .com name. (Leadbank.com was already registered to a non-financial company.) The .bank migration provided them an opportunity to secure the shorter, more memorable lead.bank domain name. A cost-benefit analysis conducted by bank leadership showed that the benefits the institution would reap from enhanced security and consumer confidence far outweighed the nominal costs of the domain name registration and migration.

“When you’re talking about small banks with seriously limited tech budgets—when you can make an improvement at the core of your operations with your clients—that is the easiest budgetary decision you can make,” says Joshua Rowland, Lead Bank’s vice chairman.

For Citizens National Bank, the migration to .bank has reinvigorated the institution’s branding efforts, giving rise to a new campaign to enhance its social media presence. Laney adds that the customer response to the change has been all positive.

As threats to the financial sector continue to evolve and consumers seek a higher level of security from their institutions, .bank provides a strong, more secure and trusted home for banks in the digital space.

Craig Schwartz is managing director of fTLD Registry Services, which manages the .bank and .insurance domains.