Every business knows they need a web presence for the convenience of their customers. If you are a financial institution, this means having loan calculators and other online banking tools easily accessible so customers can take care of their banking business any time of the day or night. But a credit union website must balance providing customers the convenience of doing their banking online with helping to protect against online fraud.
It doesn’t matter what type of banking services a credit union member is seeking, if they are sharing personal details, they want to know the website is legitimate and reputable.
That’s where the top level domain (TLD) type becomes important.
Your TLD identifies what type of website you have. Most people are familiar with the generic TLDs and the types of organizations they represent:
- .com — This means for commercial. It was the first TLD released for common use and is the most popular type of TLD extension. Anyone can obtain this TLD.
- .gov —This is restricted to U.S. states, cities, towns, counties, governmental agencies, government programs, and native American tribes.
- .edu —This is specifically for colleges, universities and other schools located in the United States.
- .org — This was created for non-profit organizations. There is no verification to use it so communities, schools, non-profit, and for-profits all use this TLD.
As you can see, anyone can register to have a .org TLD. At first, that was the only option. Now with more TLD options available, many credit union websites are starting to wonder if .org is still the best option.
Should you change your credit union’s TLD?
There are numerous things to consider before you change your credit union domain. Think about other credit unions in your community. Do any have a similar name to yours? If yes, switching to a credit union domain or a cooperative domain differentiates you from the others who use a .org domain. Or, maybe customers sometimes confuse you with being a bank. Here is one important fact to consider:
A unique TLD makes you memorable. The best credit unions understand the important role branding plays in their success.
It doesn’t matter why your members want to find your website—they could be looking for information on mortgages, or perhaps they want to use your credit union web tools—whatever the reason, you should make it as easy as possible to be found online.
Let’s answer the three most common questions regarding if you should transfer to a specialized TLD.
- Why is .COOP or .bank or .creditunion better than a .com or .org?
There were a little over 20 million domain names registered with .org .com and .net domain registrations in 2019.
Unlike .com, .net and .org, you must go through a verification process before you can use a .COOP, .bank and .creditunion extensions. Since this verification process is in place for specialty TLDs, people who are searching for a credit union website know instantly that they can trust the website if they see .COOP or .creditunion. This adds legitimacy and credibility to the information on your credit union website.
- Are credit unions eligible for a .COOP domain?
According to Co-OpLaw.org, “a credit union is a cooperative bank that is owned and managed by its members, all of whom have accounts in the bank”.
This means a credit union would be eligible for a .COOP domain.
Credit unions that want to stress the fact that they are nonprofit and owned by their members, as opposed to being profitable corporations like conventional banks, can use a .COOP as a way to emphasize this operational difference.
- What are the ICANN requirements for using a .COOP domain?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) created criteria to determine what organizations are eligible for .COOP domains:Members of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA)
- Member of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)
- Organizations formed as and/or considered cooperatives under applicable local law
- Associations comprised of cooperatives
- Organizations that are committed to the seven cooperative principles
- Organizations that are majority controlled by cooperatives
- Entities whose operations are principally dedicated to serving cooperatives; and entities whose use of a .COOP domain name would, in the option of the DCLLC Board, advance the interests of the cooperative sector in general or would assist in the development of cooperatives worldwide.
What are the benefits to credit unions for having a .COOP domain?
All credit unions are required to follow the Seven Cooperative Principles/COOP values that guide all cooperatives, which are:
- Voluntary membership
- Democratic member control
- Members’ economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
Every time a member visits your credit union website with your .COOP domain name, they are reminded of your values. It’s these values that increase your members’ loyalty. And, since your official branded email addresses will end in a specialized TLD, you will have automatic branding built in already to set you apart from traditional .org credit unions.
What is the verification process for a .COOP or .credit union?
The verification process is simple. Eligible credit unions can visit the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) website to complete the verification form proving that they are a U.S. credit union. To register for a .COOP TLD, follow the verification policy explained here.
Having to prove you are indeed a cooperative or a credit union makes it harder to obtain a specialized TLD, which makes the distinction more exclusive.
How does EnCirca compare to other domain registrars?
With over 900 domain registrars in the world, you need to do your homework to find one that meets all your needs. When you are looking for a credit union domain registrar, it’s essential that you select one that checks all of these boxes:
- ICANN-accredited registrar: This will ensure that the registrar is legitimate.
- Technical support: Ideally, you should be able to call or do a live chat with the support team to deal with any problems.
- DSN configuration tools: Make sure they are easy to access now before a problem happens.
- Single price package availability: This will eliminate the hassles of getting separate bills for domain registration, e-mail hosting, web hosting, and SSL certificate services.
- Hosting solutions: It’s so much easier if your domain registrar can handle email hosting and web hosting for you.
- Website builder availability: You should look for templates, drag and drop features, and a responsive design so you can quickly update your website.
EnCirca offers all the features mentioned above plus a la carte security data services such as multi-factor-authentication, secure DNS, DMARC email authentication, TLS/SSL digital certificates, secure forwarding, and secure web hosting.
A credit union website interested in obtaining a .COOP domain needs to consider one last detail: cybersecurity. EnCirca is proud to be SOC2 certified. This certification shows EnCirca follows the necessary procedures to keep data secure.
3 Steps to register your .COOP domain.
EnCirca makes it easy to obtain a .COOP domain name for your credit union. Follow these three steps:
- Enter the .COOP domain name into the search box on the .COOP info page.
- If the name is available, add the .COOP domain name to your shopping cart and check out. If the name is not available, try another variation.
- After your purchase is complete, you will receive an email to verify your cooperative status.
As soon as the verification process is complete, the .COOP domain is yours. It’s that simple.