Why Registrars, Resellers&Domain Portfolio Managers should care about BTAPPA

The world of ICANN and the registries is full of cryptic acronyms – which luckily enough for us creates lots of space for consulting opportunities 😉 Now here is the latest one, BTAPPA, a new registry service by Verisign that was approved by the ICANN board on December 9th, 2009 and the necessary amendment was just signed two weeks ago. The original proposal was sent to ICANN in July 2009.

If you are a Registrar, Reseller or Domain Portfolio Manager, here’s why you should care about BTAPPA

Bulk Transfer after Partial Portfolio Acquisition” for the .COM, .NET and .NAME TLDs is a new service that allows the backend transfer (on the registry level) of a group of domains from one registrar to another. When you transfer a single domain from registrar to registrar, the transfer automatically goes hand in hand with a one year renewal of the name, which happens at the time of transfer completion. In order to allow one registrar to purchase another, the registry has for offered a bulk transfer service that transfers all of the domain names from one registrar to another for a fee usually starting in the range of $10,000, but without actually renewing the domain name.

Imagine a domain reseller who has their account at a specific registrar has decided to get an ICANN accreditation of their own. The reseller now has two choices to proceed in order to transfer their customer’s domains from the old registrar to their own accreditation:

  1. Try to convince the registrants to switch the names to the new registrar (for example by giving them an incentive, such a reduced renewal rate) and move as many names as quickly as possible. If you’re going with this option, you will have to put some additional work into the transfer system in order to make the transfer as seamless as possible.
  2. Transfer the names at the time of their renewal, instead of just renewing them at the old registrar.

While a mixture of both strategies usually works best, there are always some issues that will be encountered. Some registrants will not want to move their names, while others will wait too long to initiate the renewal of the name, so it will be too late to transfer.

With the introduction of this new proposed service, the registry will now be able to transfer partial groups of names over to a new registrar, making this transition a whole lot easier. Of course this also means a new source of potential revenue for Verisign, as the charges are supposed to be between $5,000 and $50,000. Just as this may work for resellers and partial acquisition of registrars, this may also be an option for entities that manage a large number of domain names in a reseller account, if the losing registrar plays along. Even for an owner of a large portfolio of domains it may make sense to take advantage of this service, should they decide to become ICANN accredited (which we recommend for 10,000+ domains or very valuable domains).

If the names transferred are not owned or managed by one entity, it is important to keep in mind that the existing Registrar-Registrant agreement permits this type of transaction.