Around 4,000 people and businesses have paid to register Cayman domain names since regulators announced new rules which will ultimately see .ky Internet addresses sold worldwide.
The Information and Communications Technology Authority says around 40 percent of the 10,000 local businesses and Internet sites that had .ky addresses have registered and paid their annual US$40 subscription fee under the new regime.
Meanwhile, a secondhand market in trading Cayman website addresses appears to be emerging, with domain names being offered for sale or lease locally.
Some businesses, which held multiple domain names, are advertising those names for sale or lease locally prior to the .ky handle being open to global investors.
Anyone holding a .ky domain name has until Sept. 2 to confirm they want to keep the site name and to pay the registration fee.
After that, people all over the world will be able to buy and sell .ky domain names. ICTA has partnered with Cayman Islands-based Internet investor Frank Schilling, who owns global domain registry operator Uniregistry, to manage the domain and market the addresses for sale.
ICTA believes there will be demand from companies based overseas that are affiliated with Cayman for the domain – previously unavailable to anyone who does not live in the jurisdiction.
ICTA also believes it can leverage the .ky handle to create marketable website addresses that can be sold at premium prices. Certain catchy domain names, for example www.luc.ky, are being held back from general sale to be auctioned in the hope of a cash windfall.
Michael Ward, director of registrar operations for Uniregistry, said there would also be a secondary market, with companies buying up names they believe will be popular and attempting to sell them on at higher prices.
Neither the firm nor ICTA has any involvement or control in that market, he said. “There will always be investors and early adopters in any industry,” Mr. Ward said. “The domain name market, and in this case the .ky extension, is no exception to investors looking for a liquid asset. The scale may not be significant initially but it will exist.”
That is already starting to happen locally, he said.
“I have seen a few instances of registrants listing .ky domains for sale or lease. These are aftermarket domain names, where a registrant is trying to sell his or her domain for a premium price. Like any industry, the buyers and sellers determine the value.”
An advertisement being circulated on email offering premium Cayman Islands domain names, includes around 40 website names for sale or lease. These include rentals.ky, caymanguide.ky and caregivers.ky.
Len Jackson, of Cayman Business Guide, said he had registered the sites over the years as part of his listings business. He said he did not expect to make a profit on them and just wanted to let people know the domain names were available and could potentially be snapped up on the global market after September.
“Once they go on the open market, they could be held to ransom over them,” he said.
Alee Fa’amoe, managing director of ICTA, said the authority only dealt with initial sales. He advised anyone with a business in Cayman that requires a website to secure the address before September.
So far, around 4,000 .ky websites have been registered under the new regime. Mr. Fa’amoe ultimately expects around 6,000 to register. He said anyone with a current registration who has not paid would see their account go into deficit 45 days before the Sept. 2 deadline, at which point the address will become freely available to anyone.
Mr. Ward added, “Our main focus right now is to ensure that existing .ky registrants claim their .ky domains and that Uniregistry assists in this process. There are still a fair number of local registrants who have not claimed their existing .ky domains. It is important these domains are claimed sooner than later to avoid possibly expiring on July 22 of this year or getting deleted on Sept. 2, 2015.”