Top Level Design’s .ink has become the sixth new gTLD in the Latin alphabet to be approved for sale in China.
It was one of four new gTLDs given regulatory approval to begin operating properly in the country late last week. The others were all in Chinese script.
From Finnish-founded TLD Registry, .中文网 (“Chinese web site”) and .在线 (“Chinese online”) gained approval.
From local outfit Guangzhou Yuwei Information Technology Co, .集团 (“group”) and .我爱你 (“I love you”) were given the nod.
Under China’s Draconian domain name regulations, only domains registered via local registries and registrars may be used.
Registries from outside the country have had to set up a local corporate presence and agree to China’s censorship policies in order to be compliant.
MMX has reported a 100% increase in billings for 2016, despite its number of domains under management dropping in some TLDs.
The company, until recently known as Minds + Machines, said billing were $15.8 million in the year to December 31, compared to $7.9 million for in 2015.
Billings is an up-front measure of sales growth that does not take into account the way domain revenue is recognized over the life of the registration.
The company said, in a trading update to the London markets today, that billings and domains under management do not necessarily correlate. The former can be up even if the latter is down:
For example, in 2016 .work generated $392,000 off 81,000 registrations compared to $206,000 off 102,000 registrations in 2015 reflecting the use of a promotional initiative to drive registrations that year.
MMX also disclosed that China now accounts for more than half of its billings: 59%, compared to 24% for the US and 17% for Europe.
That’s largely based on its launch of .vip, which launched last May and has half a million names mainly because of the resonance of the string in China.
The company said it intends to imitate its focus on .vip in 2016 by only launching two TLDs — .boston and one other — in 2017.
MMX’s formal, audited 2016 financial results will be published in April.
GMO Registry and Radix have won Chinese government approval for their respective new gTLDs .shop and .site.
It’s the second batch of foreign new gTLDs to get the nod from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, following .vip, .club and .xyz in early December.
They’re also the first two Asian registries from outside China to get the right to flog their domains in China — GMO is Japanese and Radix is UAE-based with Indian roots.
Their new Chinese government licenses mean Chinese registrars will now be able to allow their customers to actually use .shop and .site domains to host web sites.
The registries in turn have had to agree to enforce China’s rather arbitrary and Draconian censorship policies on their Chinese customers.
The approvals were announced by MIIT December 29.
.site currently has about 570,000 domains in its zone file, making it a top-10 new gTLD by volume, while .shop, which launched much more recently, has over 100,000.
The ability for Chinese customers to develop their domains is no doubt good for the long-term health of TLDs, but it’s not necessarily a harbinger of shorter-term growth in a market where domains are often treated little more than meaningless baseball cards to be traded rather than commodities with intrinsic value.
The Chinese government has granted licenses to operate in the country to its first tranche of new gTLDs — .vip, .club and .xyz.
The agreements mean that Chinese registrars will be able to give their Chinese customers the ability to actually use their domains for web sites.
It also means the companies will be obliged to censor domains the government does not like, but only those domains registered via Chinese registrars.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the licenses, given to the Chinese subsidiaries of Minds + Machines, .CLUB Domains and XYZ.com respectively, today.
M+M CEO Toby Hall told DI that it’s “a great moment of support for Chinese registrars”, giving them a “very clear signal about which TLDs they can focus on”.
XYZ.com said in a blog post that some of its Chinese registrars (its biggest channel) are planning on offering discounts to celebrate the approval.
It’s always been possible for Chinese people to register new gTLD domains via Chinese registrars — it’s estimated that 42% of the 27 million new gTLD domains in existence today are Chinese-owned.
However, Chinese citizens need a government license if they want to launch a web site, and the government only issues licenses for domains in approved TLDs.
In addition to .cn and China-based gTLDs, which were the first to be given the nod, Verisign was approved earlier this year for .com.
Hall said that while .vip has been popular with Chinese domainers, the MIIT license means it can start to tap the small business market there too.
Obtaining the license means that the three registries, which are all based in the US or Europe, will have to comply with Chinese regulations when it comes to Chinese customers.
That basically means the Chinese government gets to censor pretty much anything it doesn’t like, up to and including sites that “spread rumors”.
Hall said that there’s no chance of this censorship bleeding out to affect non-Chinese customers.
M+M, along with XYZ and .CLUB, are using Chinese registry gateway ZDNS to act as a proxy between their own back-ends (Nominet for .vip, Neustar for .club and CentralNic for .xyz) and Chinese registrars.
“All of our Chinese web sites go through ZDNS, so only web sites going through ZDNS would be affected,” Hall said, referring to the censorship rules.
Hall added that he was “not aware” of there being a blocklist of politically sensitive strings that Chinese customers are not allowed to register.
XYZ.com has hired its first Beijing-based employee, as part of its ongoing plan to formally enter the Chinese market.
The company said yesterday that it has appointed Mason Zhang, until recently chief marketing office at .top gTLD registry Jiangsu Bangning Science & Technology Co, as its new director of business development for China.
It’s part of XYZ’s seemingly interminable entry to the Chinese market, which is over a year old.
While the majority of .xyz’s registrations have been into China, the registry (along with pretty much every other Western registry) still does not have the necessary government permissions so that its customers can start using their names.
The company said in a blog post that it expects to get its Chinese accreditation “very soon”.
Zhang’s former employer, .top, is second only to .xyz in terms of new gTLD registration volume, also due to Chinese sales. It has about 3.7 million names in its zone file, compared to .xyz’s 6.1 million.