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Anguilla cashes in on unique domain name

Regional 20 Mar, 2024 Follow News

Anguilla is the perfect place to work remotely

Anguilla is a tiny island in the Caribbean but it is enjoying a fortunate financial boost simply from having its unique domain name.

In 1988, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) assigned two-letter domains for every country. Spain was given .es, .mx for Mexico and .uk for the United Kingdom. Anguilla didn’t realise it at the time, but the tiny island was fortunate to get the .ai top-level domain. Decades later the artificial intelligence boom is bringing in much needed income to Anguilla, all because of the .ai domain extension. Big and small companies want to build AI websites using Anguilla’s .ai domain, which charges for the privilege. Domain registrations and investments now make up a third of Anguilla’s revenue in this British Overseas Territory about 155 miles (250 kilometres) from Puerto Rico.

Blue seas, white sand beaches and coral reefs are the main attractions of the island, which depends largely on tourism. In 2020, the most expensive domain on the island, expert.ai, sold for US$103,000. The real breakthrough came with the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022. Within five months, .ai domain registrations soared. Sales nearly quadrupled, says Vince Cate, who manages domain registrations for the Anguillan government. “We already represent approximately a third of the government budget,” he said.

Anguilla earned $3 million from domain registrations in January 2024 alone, and the estimates are that figure will double by the time they’re due for renewal in two years’ time.

Some AI companies like stability.ai and character.ai have already claimed their domain names. Big players like Google, Meta and X (formerly Twitter) have also staked their claims in the AI domain. Despite the island’s small size and population of only 16,000, domain registration revenue is significant. Estimates indicate registrations could bring to $78.3 million by 2025.

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