BITS, the technology policy wing of the Financial Services Roundtable, may apply to ICANN for as many as six financially-focused new top-level domains.
The organization is pondering bids for .bank, .banking, .insure, .insurance, .invest and .investment, according to Craig Schwartz, who’s heading the project as general manager for registry programs.
(UPDATE: To clarify, these are the six strings BITS is considering. It does not expect to apply for all six. Three is a more likely number.)
Schwartz, until recently ICANN’s chief gTLD registry liaison, told DI that the application(s) will be filed by a yet-to-be-formed LLC, which will have the FSR and the American Bankers Association as its founding members.
It will be a community-designated bid, which means the company may be able to avoid an ICANN auction in the event that its chosen gTLD strings are contested by other applicants.
“We’ve looked at the scoring, and while it may not come into play at all we do believe we can meet the requisite score [for a successful Community Priority Evaluation],” Schwartz said. “But we’re certainly mindful of what’s happening in the space, there’s always the possibility of contention.”
There’s no relationship between BITS and CORE, the Council of European Registrars, which is apparently looking into applying for its own set of financially-oriented gTLDs, Schwartz said.
It’s not a big-money commercial play, but the new venture would be structured as a for-profit entity, he said.
“It’s relatively analogous to what’s happened in the .coop space, where after 10 years they have only about 7,000 registrations,” Schwartz said.
It sounds like pricing might be in the $100+ range. Smaller financial institutions lacking the resources to apply for their own .brand gTLDs would be a likely target customer base.
Interestingly, .bank may begin life as a business-to-business play, used primarily for secure inter-bank transactions, before it becomes a consumer-facing proposition, Schwartz said.
He added that it would likely partner with a small number of ICANN-accredited registrars – those that are able to meet its security requirements – to get the domains into the hands of banks.
VeriSign has already signed up to provide the secure back-end registry services for the bid.