Capital One Financial Corporation (“Capital One”) is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and is a Fortune 500 company with commercial operations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Richard D. Fairbank, the founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Capital One, founded the company in 1988 in the belief that the power of information, technology, and great people could be combined to bring highly customized financial products directly to consumers. Today, Capital One is one of the top-ten largest banks based on deposits from its over 40 million customer accounts, with over 1,000 branch locations in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The intended future mission and purpose of the .CAPITALONE gTLD is to serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive namespace provided by Capital One and its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates for businesses and consumers that use Capital One’s broad range of financial products and services. However, Capital One is primarily filing this application in ICANN’s first round for defensive reasons, given the uncertainty regarding the timing of a second round. Capital One will likely conduct an analysis of other .BRAND gTLD applications as well as general market adoption to determine short- and long-term potential best-in-class use case options to more effectively serve and enhance Capital One’s online strategy. It is intended that this analysis will help Capital One evaluate the potential for this gTLD to become an important building block in the establishment of a unified digital strategy.

Capital One has three business segments, identified as: Credit Card, Consumer Banking, and Commercial Banking. The potential future use of the .CAPITALONE gTLD by these or other business segments will also be driven by Capital One’s business strategies, as identified in its annual report and investor filings, see http:⁄⁄⁄phoenix.zhtml?c=70667&p=irol-reportsannual.

Although ICANN has not specifically recognized a .BRAND gTLD specification in the current version of the Applicant Guidebook, it is widely anticipated within the brand-owner community that this will become a specialty subset of new gTLDs. The .CAPITALONE gTLD is planned as a branded gTLD, with the potential goals of protecting Capital One’s online presence and identity; expanding its marketing and promotion efforts; providing a secure channel for online products and services; and offering a platform to consolidate many of the online intellectual property activities of Capital One.

Capital One intends to initially limit registration and use of domain names within the .CAPITALONE gTLD to Capital One and its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates. This initial limited use will allow Capital One to establish its operations and achieve full sustainability. This limited distribution coupled with the other requirements set forth in Specification 9 of the template Registry Agreement is intended to exempt Capital One from its annual Code of Conduct Compliance requirements.

After the fifth year operation Capital One will evaluate whether opportunities exist to carry out the business strategy for the .CAPITALONE gTLD through expansion that continues the sustainable operations of the registry through fee-based registrations to parties other than Capital One and its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates.

The current best thinking involves a four-stage rollout:
  1. Stage 1
    The initial stage of implementation of the gTLD will involve Capital One registering a limited number of second-level domain names. This will provide Capital One’s information technology and security personnel with the time to run a number of tests to ensure seamless and secure access to .CAPITALONE domain names, as well as interoperability with various software and Web-based applications. This initial allocation will also allow the appropriate Capital One staff to coordinate with the internal and external staff responsible for the delegation and setup phases of the .CAPITALONE gTLD to ensure a proper transition from delegation to full operation.
  2. Stage 2
    Once the appropriate security and stability issues have been satisfactorily addressed, Capital One plans to begin allocating a limited number of domain names for internal corporate use. During this period of time, Capital One may also evaluate strategies to potentially migrate Internet traffic away from its current gTLD and ccTLD domain name registrations.
    It is in Stage 2 that Capital One will evaluate expanding the operations of the gTLD to permit registration by other registrants, such as licensees and⁄or strategic partners. Should an assessment of its expansion strategy lead to a decision to extend registration rights to other parties, this expansion is currently planned to take place during Stage 3. However, any expansion would be conditioned upon a review of the Specification 9 (Registry Code of Conduct) set forth in the template Registry Agreement to ensure compliance with Capital One’s business model.
  3. Stage 3
    Depending on the analysis of the evaluations undertaken in Stage 2, Capital One may begin to implement the permanent migration of Internet traffic away from the TLDs in which Capital One’s domain names are currently registered, and toward the .CAPITALONE gTLD. It is in this stage that Capital One also may implement its decision to extend registration rights to licensees or strategic parties, depending upon compliance with Specification 9, as noted above. The dates of such expansion are subject to change depending upon business, strategic, and industry factors at the time.
    Based on the company’s analysis of its existing domain name portfolio and its planned use strategy, coupled with the fact that it will have full control over the number of registrations in the .CAPITALONE gTLD namespace, Capital One’s business plan contemplates domain name registrations totaling well under 10,000 in the first five years of the .CAPITALONE gTLD’s operation.
  4. Stage 4
    Based on its experience with any expansion implemented in Stage 3, Capital One will assess whether its business plan and expansion strategy should be augmented by extending registration rights to a broader class of licensees, including potential customers of Capital One. It is anticipated by Capital One that changes to the domain name industry, and particularly the impact of .BRAND gTLDs, will take at least five years to be realized and assessed. Any decision to expand the gTLDs beyond corporate, qualified subsidiary and affiliate, and licensee use will take into account this experience as well as the technical analysis of potential expansion.
The potential use of the .CAPITALONE gTLD by Capital One and its business segments will also be driven by Capital One’s future business strategies as identified in its annual report and investor filings, see http:⁄⁄⁄phoenix.zhtml?c=70667&p=irol-reportsannual.
Jovenet Consulting,
Aug 11, 2016, 2:12 AM