The Chinese government’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has given official approval for the .club, .vip and .xyz new gTLDs meaning they can now apply for relevant local licenses to be hosted within the country. Previously only .com and .net operated by Verisign had this official approval.It’s a hugely significant opportunity for the three new generic Top Level Domains as previously registrants were required to host their domain names in these gTLDs outside the country. China already accounts for at least 40% and possibly around half of all registrations for all new gTLDs. However one probable trade-off is that the Chinese government can order domain names, and hosted websites, to be deleted it doesn’t approve of.The three gTLDs are among the top ten when it comes to registration numbers. According to nTLDstats.com, .xyz is the largest with 6.671 million registrations while .club is the fifth largest (881,300) and .vip ninth (531,500) accounting for almost 3 in 10 (29.89%) of all registrations.China’s significance can be shown by it accounting for a growing number of registrations, both for new gTLDs and legacy gTLDs, particularly short domains and even more so short numeric domains, and all three new gTLDs having offices there.While there are almost twice as many .cn domains registered within China than .com – around 20 million .cn compared to 11 million .com, .com domains attract higher premiums from investors according to the Coreile Letter blog with .com being considered a “door to the world [for] a Chinese enterprise, and every Chinese company aspires to have a ‘grand’ entrance.”Additionally, many numbers rhyme with Chinese characters. Coreile gives the example of “520” that “rhymes with (sounds like) the Chinese characters 我愛你 (I love you), which is perfect for a dating website.” And the third reason given by Coreile is that Chinese companies like to use acronyms for their domains, practice not as common for western companies. “For example, Jing Dong upgraded from JingDong.com (and 360buy.com) to JD.com and Zhu Ba Jie from Zhubajie.com to ZBJ.com. This is possible because these acronym names correspond to the fully spelled out Pinyin names. In other words, Chinese consumers have no difficulty remembering either an acronym name or its fully spelled out Pinyin name.”According to nTLDstats.com, there are almost 12 million (11.910 million) domain names registered to registrants within China out of 27.015 million across the 1,209 new gTLDs that have been delegated, however there are also 7.390 million domains that the registrant is unknown, usually through the use of Whois proxy services. There is only one additional country that accounts for over one million registrations – the USA (2.707m).For .club, the registry saw China as a huge opportunity even before their launch, regularly visiting the country since January 2014, months before its official launch. Since then they’ve seen significant growth in registrations from domain investors in China with more than 400,000 domains having been registered there and more than US$2 Million in .CLUB premium name sales made to Chinese investors. They are now one of only five formal government licenses for foreign domains so will be eligible for ICP (Internet Content Provider) numbers. An ICP number is required for every website hosted in mainland China.”The Chinese market is extremely important to us, and we’ve worked very hard at understanding how the regulatory system there works and how we can work with the government as it evolves,” said CEO, Colin Campbell. “We’re very proud to be among the first foreign domain name registries approved. While we’ve already enjoyed some success in China, we now look forward to expanding the reach and popularity of .CLUB to the many businesses and entrepreneurs developing their online presence in China. Being an approved registry opens the door to great expansion for us in the Chinese market.”The word “club” in English is widely used and recognised in China by existing clubs and small businesses, making .club a logical and meaningful domain extension. With over 140 million .com and .net names and nearly 20 million .cn names already registered, businesses looking for good, brandable names are looking further afield for new choices such as the .club new generic Top Level Domain.Likewise MMX, operator of the .vip new gTLD, was very pleased, with CeO Toby Hall saying the “MIIT approval is a major milestone for MMX and the continued successful development of our dot VIP domain. We share the China domain industry’s opinion that regulatory approval will provide for another wave of top-level domain growth in the region. Influential Chinese registrars will now be able to market this select group of approved new gTLDs more actively to the important local Chinese SME end-market for usage. We are deeply honoured to be one of only three registries to be approved in this first round of approvals.”
MMX, or Minds + Machines, certainly sees a bright future in China. In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange Tuesday, the company announced a Chinese investment company based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands will be buying £5.5 million ($7.1m) worth of shares in the new generic Top Level Domain company.”The first half of the year has been transformational for MMX with the Company achieving its stated goals of transitioning into a lean pure-play registry business, able to operate incisively across three time-zones and, more importantly, crossing-over into operating profitability for its ongoing operations, a transition which is ahead of management’s expectations,” said Toby Hall, CEO of MMX, in a statement. “As underlined by our H1 success in China, both the industry as a whole and MMX itself have reached an inflexion point where the historic excitement surrounding new gTLDs is now beginning to be reflected by tangible results and meaningful progress. China and the Far East are leading the way and MMX has demonstrated it can and will continue to play a meaningful role in this region and the gTLD market as a whole.”Given the continued strength of our cash balances and the strong performance of our ongoing operations in H1, the Board is therefore delighted to also announce today a tender offer for 100,000,000 ordinary share at 13 pence as well as the private subscription for 42,307,692 Ordinary shares at 13 pence by Goldstream Capital Master Fund I, advised by Goldstream Capital Management Limited, a private fund incorporated in the Cayman islands which is wholly owned by Hony Capital, a leading Chinese equity investment company. The Company is confident that Goldstream and Hony will be able to greatly assist MMX’s long term plans in China and the wider Asia region.”The executive management team is optimistic for the outcome of the year as a whole as we continue to stream-line operations, outsourcing where possible and investing in sales and marketing as appropriate. We remain excited about the medium and long term prospects for 2017 and beyond across our three markets of focus: Asia, Europe and the US.”MMX also reported strong earnings growth with billings for the first half of 2016 increasing over 300 percent to US$8.05 million (H1 2015: US$2.0 million) significantly helped by the successful launch into China in the period. Also in the first half of 2016, revenues doubled to US$7.4 million (H1 2015: US$3.6 million).MMX is also in the process of migrating technical back-end services onto Nominet’s platform. Nominet is the registry for .uk and also provides registry services for .wales and .cymru.MMMX provides backed registry services for ten new gTLDs, the largest of which is .vip which has 460,000 domain names registered, totalling 584,000 domains according to nTLDstats.com. It also operates 26 new gTLDs, including .vip.