I saw a TechCrunch tweet about a Brazilian startup called Alt.bank, and it caught my attention because of the new gTLD that was auto-hyperlinked in the tweet:
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) May 4, 2021
I clicked the Alt.bank link in the tweet, and it did not resolve for me. I clicked through to the TechCrunch article, and I saw why the website doesn’t resolve there. The banking startup’s brand might be Alt.bank, but the company can’t be found on Alt.bank. Instead, the company uses the AltBank.com.br ccTLD for its website.
I don’t know if it makes things better or worse for the company, but it does not appear that anyone owns or can own the Alt.bank domain name. In fact, Whois records show Alt.bank is a “Reserved Domain Name:”
I don’t know if this means the domain name is permanently reserved and nobody can ever own it or if the registry reserved it and could sell it at some point in the future.
Whatever the case may be, every time someone writes about the brand on Twitter and other social media, it will automatically hyperlink to a non-functioning url. This is confusing. In addition, some ISPs or even web browsers could potentially show competitor advertising if the website does not resolve. For me, the website simply doesn’t load at all and I get a Google Chrome error message that says “This site can’t be reached.”
The startup doesn’t own the AltBank.com domain name either. In fact, a Russian bank owns and uses AltBank.com for its own website. This may be less of an issue since the .com.br ccTLD is very popular in Brazil, and the .com may not be necessary.
However, the company will forever deal with Alt.bank being auto-hyperlinked in social media and potentially emails as well. I would be curious to know how email providers handle emails sent to addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, but that’s another story. With .Bank being an active domain name extension, this branding is bizarre.