The lightening pace of technology is always waiting for the law to catch up, and the use of electronic authentication techniques, like digital certificates and certificate authorities, is no exception.

Many types of financial transactions now rely on electronic authentication, from Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) payments between consumers and merchants over the Internet to intrabank communications. More than 20 states have enacted or are working on specific laws that govern electronic authentication, resulting in a patchwork of regional regulation that cannot be respected by boundary-less Internet transactions. There is nearly uniform agreement among bankers and technology vendors that this dilemma would be best solved by Federal legislation. "The good thing for banks or anybody else that wants to play in the electronic commerce game is that they want a fairly uniform set of laws, not only in the United States, but hopefully internationally," says Thomas Greco, associate general council for the American Bankers Association.

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