In a move that is expected to catapult China to the next level of Internet commerce, the People’s Bank of China has signed up a Texas-based company, Sun Microsystems’ Chinese subsidiary and a Beijing-based software firm to provide secure authentication tools for the bank’s e-commerce projects.
Plano, Texas-based Entrust Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTU) was selected along with Sun Microsystems China Ltd. and Beijing Data Systems to provide solutions for the Chinese central bank’s business-to-consumer and business-to-business Web communications and transactions.
Entrust’s Direct and Web Connector products will act as a certification authority (CA), issuing and managing digital certificates for Internet payments. Entrust’s Web solutions are, according to the company, designed for ease of use and “allow organizations to be sure that business transactions are valid and they allow users to be sure that Web sites are authentic.”
The backbone of the agreement involves PKI (public key infrastructure), which utilizes the power of data scrambling technology. Experts feel that the scrambling process, known as cryptography, is essential to the security and integrity of e-commerce transactions.
Sun Microsystems China Ltd. was chosen to provide the servers for the People’s Bank of China project, while Beijing Data Systems will provide software modules and other related applications software.
China, E-Commerce and the New Millennium
“This contract represents our first in China, a country that is rapidly expanding its Internet connectivity,” commented John Ryan, president and CEO of Entrust. “Our established presence in Japan combines with this important win for a strong foothold in Asia-Pacific.” The People’s Bank of China is the official central bank and regulatory body for China’s financial sector.
E-commerce projections for China, based on an exponential rise in Internet usage, are beginning to lure more online firms into seriously considering Internet-related business in the Asia-Pacific region. China is expected to have 40 million users by 2001 and could well have the most users in the world by 2005.
Ensuring Other International Online Bank Transactions
As its name implies, Entrust’s ultimate mission is to offer companies and consumers a feeling of online security. Despite the skyrocketing use of online shopping, many people still are wary of buying goods and services in a world they feel is not secure.
Earlier this month, Entrust was chosen by the Bank of Bermuda to assist in the launch of the financial firm’s Secure Clients Access service to international customers.
As a result of its agreement with Entrust, the Bank offers digital signatures and e-mail encryption for file transfers, as well as authentication and encryption for online management of portfolios.
“By introducing and implementing the Entrust-based solution, the bank has positioned itself extremely well for enhancing its international e-commerce products offering,” commented Gavin Grounds, assistant vice-president of global internetworking for the Bank of Bermuda.
Originally a division of Nortel Networks in Ottawa, Canada, Entrust spun off as a separate international provider of electronic security solutions in December of 1996.
According to Entrust spokesperson Carrie Bendzsa, the company “offers transparent, managed security software which makes it easy for organizations and individuals to benefit from security without the need to know its intricacies — a trusted source of secure e-business tools.”