James Kamihachi, a guest writer in your Dec. 29 Viewpoints section ["Cooperation Needed to Forge Global E-Business Guidelines"], called for global ground rules for online financial services that would apply equally to Internet companies and regulated financial institutions.
These ground rules, he argued, would level the competitive playing field and protect consumers.
We strongly agree. In fact, we are the private-sector initiative he calls for. Identrus LLC, a private company made up of more than 40 of the world's most prominent financial institutions, is providing just what he demanded.
Specifically, these are provisions for "security and authentication, remedies for failed transactions, disclosure, and privacy" to consumers of online financial services and participants in business-to-business e-commerce. We're doing it through a comprehensive legal and technical infrastructure based on a set of uniform system rules, contracts, and business practices.
Membership is voluntary and, we hope, soon to be ubiquitous, in the same way that financial institutions, companies, and individuals usually choose to participate in global payments systems like the credit card system.
In the Identrus system, a financial institution's corporate customers anywhere on Earth may use Identrus Global IDs -- digital certificates -- with any of their business partners. These corporate customers can prove their identities, digitally sign contracts, communicate privately, access secure services, and engage in commercial transactions, including payments, that cannot be repudiated or disputed.
When counterparties are certified within the Identrus system, the protections go both ways. Our global legal and risk management rules spell out precisely what happens if something goes wrong in a transaction.
As Mr. Kamihachi points out, it is a complex and difficult challenge to overcome. I agree, and in fact, Identrus has invested the last several years in building a solution that addresses the very issues he raises.
Our 40-plus financial institution members and I are pleased to note that the Identrus global trust system is live and in operation today. The ground rules apply to all, and users worldwide are finally able to trust all of their e-commerce interactions over the Internet.
Guy S. Tallent
President and CEO