Domain registry moves to ban cryptocurrency names

Sorry, crypto companies, you can’t register a .bank domain name.

fTLD Registry Services, which operates the new top-level domain (TLD) extensions .bank and .insurance, is looking to ban cryptocurrency services from registering a domain name.

The , which is run by “a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations from around the world,” announced its proposed amendments to its registrant eligibility policies late last month. fTLD concurrently opened a public comment period on the changes; it will run until August 24.

While anyone can register most top-level domain extensions, some registries do apply restrictions to who qualifies for its names. The .bank TLD, which costs around $1,000 per year, is among those with the most restrictive policies. To qualify for a .bank domain name, the registrant must be a government-regulated retail bank, savings association, national bank, or bank holding or parent company. There are exceptions listed in the policy, however — one such entity that can also currently apply for a .bank domain are financial service providers.

“The original purpose of the Service Provider category was to enable banking core processors to provide infrastructure (e.g., online banking services) using a .BANK URL or to provide DNS and/or hosting that is compliant with fTLD’s Security Requirements,” said senior director of compliance and policy at fTLD, Heather Diaz, in a statement to Mashable.

The industry has clearly changed since the .bank domain launched in 2015. At the time, fTLD viewed service providers as tech services geared specifically toward regulated banks. Since then, the registry has received an uptick in applications for .bank domain names from fintech companies, such as cryptocurrency firms, looking to use the extension for authority.

“More recently, as the financial services arena has evolved, particularly as it relates to fintechs offering financial products/services (e.g., P2P payment providers, cryptocurrency companies), we have found that some prospective Registrants were seeking domains to enhance their legitimacy to market to regulated entities and/or consumers,” she said.

The changes to the .bank registrant eligibility policy would completely remove the “service provider” category. Only government-regulated retail banks will be qualified for a domain. The updated policy would also explicitly state that cryptocurrency or digital currency companies, P2P payment providers, money transfer application companies, and non-banking financial institutions like microloan and currency exchange companies, as well as payday lenders, would be ineligible for a .bank domain. 

According to Diaz, service providers in both .bank and .insurance TLDs make up only .012% of registrations. Furthermore, the registry has never approved a cryptocurrency company’s domain application.

“We’re making this move to further secure these trusted spaces,” she explained.

ICANN, the organization that oversees and manages IP addresses and the domain name system, of the new general top-level domain name extensions in 2011. Before then, top-level domains were regulated to abbreviations, such as .com, .org, and .net, along with country code domains, like .us, .uk, and .ca. Following the ICANN rule change, any entity could pay $185,000, plus an annual $25,000 fee, to become a registry and run its very own dot whatever domain extension.

According to fTLD Registry Services, there are more than 500 banks using the .bank domain name. There are currently around 2,800 .bank domain names in total.

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