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January 17, 2018

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Finland - A New Frontier for Global Domain Investors?

I've always been  a fan of country code domains (ccTLDs). I wound up in this business only because I was reading a computer magazine one day in 2002 that had an ad placed by Neustar announcing that America's .US country code domain was being opened to all U.S. citizens for the first time (originally it was reserved for government agencies, schools, etc). In doing further research on that development I stumbled upon the domain business at large and the rest, as they say is history. 

I soon learned that in many countries the local ccTLD was just as popular (if not more so) than the globally dominant .com extension with Germany's .de and Great Britain's .co.uk among the most prominent examples. However, it doesn't stop 

Global flags image from Bigstock

there as every nation on earth has their own unique country code domain and an aftermarket has developed for many of them - especially among citizens and those doing business within a specific country. 

Still, investing in ccTLDS can be a tricky business because most countries have Nexus rules that limit ownership of their domains to that nation's citizens and businesses. That, of course, limits overall sales and aftermarket interest in those TLDs. While I try to keep up with developments on the ccTLD front that could affect the value of the various extensions,  

Finland flag image from Bigstock

I have to admit that I wasn't aware that a little over a year ago Finland's .fi domain administrator - FICORA - had removed their Nexus restrictions and opened that extension to anyone, anywhere on earth. That has created increased interest in .fi, especially since less than 450,000 domains were  taken with the old rules in place, leaving a lot of desirable words and terms there for the taking. After the rules change in late 2016 FICORA reported the number of .fi domains registered in the first half of 2017 was 34% higher than the number claimed in the same period a year earlier.

I got a first hand report on what is happening on the ground in Finland from domain industry veteran Esa-Pekka Pälvimäki, who is a co-founder of Intelium.com and Estibot.com.

Esa said, " Previously, there was no aftermarket, as registering domains for resale purposes was prohibited by law, and domain registration was restricted to Finnish citizens and corporations. As of September 2016, these restrictions no longer apply. Aftermarket sales have started building up, and a new domain marketplace has recently been established at DomainKauppa.fi." 

Esa is not involved in the new marketplace but he did put me in touch with the owners and we expect to be able to start reporting verified sales on their platform in the near future. Esa noted, "The .fi ccTLD is the default TLD for Finnish businesses and consumers, and aftermarket prices are starting to reflect that. I expect the value will rise significantly once the mainstream catches on to what’s happening," He added, "There is no comprehensive database of .fi aftermarket sales, but to my knowledge, recent sales of Moi.fi (translating to "Hello") at €15,000, Kasinot.fi ("Casinos") at €11,500 and Etu.fi ("advantage") at €5,000 have recently occurred, indicating a substantial potential for this aftermarket."

Esa acknowledged, "It’s a small but interesting aftermarket, as it is a new one, and Finnish consumers always default to the .fi ccTLD for type-in traffic. For companies hoping to do business in Finland, a .fi domain name is essential. It also demonstrates how important ccTLD domains are locally in many countries outside the U.S."

Since individual registrars set their own prices for new .fi registrations they can vary wildly in cost. After checking just a handful of registrars I saw prices ranging from under $20 (at Gandi.net) to well over $60 at others, so it definitely pays to shop around.

(Posted January 17, 2018)  

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