Despite intense media hype suggesting otherwise, most financial institutions are still wary of using the Internet for business-to-business communications. That's not to say, however, that the financial services industry doesn't see its potential.

But everyone knows that you can't be wedded to potential. That's why Deloitte & Touche and the Thurston Group launched NetDox, Inc., based in Deerfield, IL. NetDox enables companies to deliver sensitive, high-value documents over the Internet by using a messaging solution that guarantees secure, global, end-to-end document delivery with third-party verification and authentication services.

The NetDox service provides privacy, message integrity, authentication of sender and receiver identity, archival services and document tracking information so that users can check the status of messages. And it enables companies to communicate without making costly investments in electronic data interchange (EDI) technology or establishing trading relationships prior to the initial communication, says NetDox vice chairman Tom Friedman, who is also a management consulting partner with Deloitte & Touche. "The Internet is not only faster, better, cheaper, but (also) it changes the dynamics of how people are able to communicate-if they can do it in a secure way," he says.

Here's how NetDox's intermediary service works: Users download software free of charge to become subscribers ("receiving" software is also free); transactions are encrypted and sent through NetDox's hub where the root key to a user's private label digital certificate is held so that transactions can be authenticated. Subscribers can communicate with any other company possessing a digital certificate, whether a NetDox subscriber or not.

The NetDox service can be used for pure messaging applications such as the delivery of contracts, orders and memos, or it can be embedded into proprietary applications such as the delivery of trade confirmations in a T+1 trading scenario. The service is priced based on two factors: service level requested and volume.

Currently, the service is being beta tested at a large investment bank. Friedman declined to reveal the institution or how the service is being used.


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