Microsoft Partners on Software for Secure Online Transactions

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced Monday that it was partnering with Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) and Baltimore Technologies (Nasdaq: BALT) to design, develop, and market a Windows 2000-based software package that incorporates Identrus, an electronic identity verification system.

The collaboration will enable financial institutions to “build a cost-effective secure environment for high-value transactions quickly and efficiently in a Windows 2000 operating environment,” the companies said.

“The lack of a robust trust solution associated with high-value Internet transactions can be a tremendous barrier to the growth of e-business,” said Sunil Misra, managing principal of Unisys’ Worldwide Enterprise Security Practice.

“This solution will help financial institutions minimize the risk associated with online transactions,” Misra added. “And it will help them maximize the opportunities presented by electronic commerce, because they can now offer more value-added services to their clients.”

Desktop Convenience

The new product will allow loan officers at financial institutions subscribing to the Identrus system to electronically authorize a letter of credit to any bank customer, with the “assurance that the identities of both parties have been conclusively established and a binding record of the transaction has been created,” the companies said.

“Interest in the Identrus global trusted network is very high among our financial institution customers,” said Bill Hartnett, global director of financial services at Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.

“The integrated solution package we are developing provides the business agility financial institutions and merchants need to take full advantage of the Internet quickly and cost effectively, while conducting business in an extraordinarily secure environment,” Hartnett said.

Nuts and Bolts

The companies said that the new product will be both flexible and scalable, and will include certification authority, smart card management, transaction logging and validation capabilities.

The yet-to-be named product will operate on a Windows 2000 Platform and will incorporateBaltimore Technologies’ UniCERT Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) security system.

Unisys will provide applications, systems integration, project management, and consulting services necessary to implement the packaged solution. Additionally, other Unisys business partners are expected to supply components of the new product.

Customers will be able to choose from multiple hardware configurations that are scalable to support mid- to high-range performance requirements.

Bonding Banks

Founded in 1999 by eight banks, including Bank of America and Chase Manhattan, New York City-based Identrus provides certification for business-to-business (B2B) trading partners.

As part of the certification process, businesses agree to abide by a set of policies providing assurance that dealings are legally binding, and recourse in the event that a certified trading partner attempts to defraud them.

Currently 30 financial institutions, representing clients in over 133 countries, have joined the Identrus system as Identrus Certificate Authorities.

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