On the 1st September, 2020, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Certified Professional Accountants (CPA), launched a new domain, reserved for qualified accountants and accountancy firms only, joining a growing number of worldwide corporations and professions that now have protected domain status.
The AICPA and the CPA applied for a protected domain for many reasons – to have an overarching domain reserved for qualified accountants, to foster customer trust using online transactions and to provide security against online fraud or hacking.
Their application was approved by the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This has since generated over a thousand new professional or business-specific domains, to improve online security, while fostering consumer confidence in online business transactions.
Currently, accountants and accountancy firms advertise their services through domains such as .com, .net or .co.uk, but there are drawbacks to this. If clients are searching for an accredited firm of accountants, for example, then current domains cannot reliably signpost those clients to professional accountancy websites.
The advantage of the .CPA domain is that because it will only be available for qualified accountants or firms, this will help customers narrow down their search for qualified accountants, confident that through .cpa sites, they have found a professional firm.
Accountants will also benefit from the increased level of security of the protected domain. There is worldwide concern over the increased level of cyberattacks, such as phishing, fraudulent transactions, data theft and ransomware demands. Using such a domain is just one more method of protecting websites and data.
Accountancy firms only have until October 31st 2020, to select a new domain name, as from November 5th 2020, all accountancy firms can apply for any available .cpa name. But individual accountants will only be able to register their name from January 15th, 2021. All applications will be assessed by a third party, and firms will be advised of the outcome at a later date. And unlike other domain searches or applications for website names, there is no certainty that the preferred one will be obtained.
The creation of this accountancy-specific domain is a major step forward for the profession. Not only does it promote the business and encourage customer confidence in the sector, but it also gives an added level of security against the increasing threat of cyberattack.