worldwide alliance

22nd Aug 1999

A worldwide alliance formed by 10 leading financial institutions is threatening to make digital certificate authorities white elphants in the e-commerce area. 

The group, called Identrus, are in business to build a global infrastructure offering trusted e-commerce facilitating services and online verification.

Identrus are banking on the trust they say already exists between member companies and their customers to make them the obvious choice for handling secure transactions online.   Added to this, members may enhance their service by pre-authorising payment and guaranteeing a purchase before the order is placed. 

"Financial institutions have had a long tradition of bridging the trust gap between partners," said Charmaine Stewart, an Identrus spokeswoman from Britain's Barclays bank. "[They] maintain their relationships directly with their customers and have managed identity risks."

According to Stewart, the group would make financial institutions capable of acting as certificate authorities.  A legal framework has been established for the relationships between parties, with the expectation of more than 300 financial institutions offering secure e-commerce facilitation, she said.  

Beneftits to consumers would include real-time signature guarantee, software vendor neutrality and othe service improvements, such as a less clunky purchasing process.   Stewart claims that services offered by some banks would allow a consumer to buy any products without logging in and out of different systems.

Some see it as an obvious move for the banks - even an overdue one - and a good way into the market.  Banks are seen as having a key asset in long-standing customer relationships, which would be unexploited and possibly lost if they did not tackle the issue of trust online.

That Identrus alliance in full...

ABN Amro
Bank of America
Bankers Trust
Barclays Bank
Chase Manhattan
Deutsche Bank
Hypo Vereinsbank
Sanwa Bank


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