The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and its business and technology arm, CPA.com, have begun an early-phase rollout of .cpa, a restricted Internet domain that allows CPAs to connect with clients and the general public with greater trust, security and verification.
Top-level domains are the letters found at the end of an Internet address, with the most common being .com. The use of specialized or restricted top-level domains has grown dramatically in recent years as businesses, organizations and online communities seek to promote their visibility and authenticity in the digital world. The restricted domain designated for the CPA profession is .cpa.
“Trust is a crucial commodity in business and on the Internet, and it’s a cornerstone of the CPA profession,” said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. “The .cpa domain will signal you’re doing business with a licensed CPA firm or individual CPA, so it provides an additional level of trust, security and brand recognition in online interactions.”
In a digital world filled with phishing and similar imitation attacks, particularly now as many firms are moving to working and communicating with clients remotely, the new .cpa domain will, “inspire confidence in communicating with a CPA,” said Michael Cerami, vice president of strategic alliances at CPA.com. “It’s all about security.”
All firms can begin submitting applications today at domains.cpa. The goal of this initial period, which runs through Oct. 31, is to help firms acquire domains that are most consistent with their current digital branding. To apply, firms must be licensed in their respective state and agree to use the domain they acquire. Licensed firms that apply during the early registration phase will be able to register their existing .com domain using .cpa. Firms will be notified of the outcome of their domain applications no later than early November.
The initial application phase is designed to ensure domains are issued systematically, according to logic-based criteria that has been verified by an independent third-party. After the initial period closes on October 31 and the first batch of domains are awarded, firms are free to apply for any available .cpa name on a rolling, “first come, first served” basis. In January 2021, the process will open up to include individually licensed CPAs.
“The digital presence of firms has never been more important.,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “The .cpa domain will reduce risks associated with phishing and spoofing attacks and the growing number of online bad actors. Just as importantly, it will give clients and the public-at-large greater peace of mind they’re dealing with legitimate CPA firms.”
The AICPA was awarded ownership and management of the .cpa top-level domain last year by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The institute has contracted with Neustar, one of the largest registry service providers in the world, to maintain and secure all .cpa domains. CPA.com will be responsible for managing the outreach of the service to firms in the United States and will oversee verification of the domain owners.
CPA.com is hosting a CPE-eligible, Sept. 15 webcast on the new offering. For additional information on the .cpa domain or to register for the webcast, please visit domains.cpa.
CPA.com brings innovative solutions to the accounting profession, either in partnership with leading providers or directly through its own development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on emerging technologies and as the trusted business advisor to practitioners in the United States, with a growing global focus.
CPA.com’s core mission is to drive the transformation of practice areas, advance the technology ecosystem for the profession, and lead technology research and innovation efforts for practitioners.
A subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the company is also part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the world’s most influential organization representing the profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.
About the American Institute of CPAs
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the CPA profession, with more than 431,000 members in the United States and worldwide, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for its members and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, and federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, offers specialized credentials, builds the pipeline of future talent and drives professional competency development to advance the vitality, relevance and quality of the profession.