Digital Signature Trust Co., the electronic authentication subsidiary of Zions First National Bank of Utah, has begun filling out its product line through two alliances.
The company announced agreements in recent weeks with GlobeSet Inc. to provide a certification authority service, and with Surety Technologies Inc. for a related offering called Digital Notary Service.
Through Digital Signature Trust, known as DST, Zions First National and its parent, Zions Bancorp. of Salt Lake City, have leaped to the forefront among banks hoping to play an authentication and certification role in electronic commerce.
Under a mandate from one of the nation's first digital signature laws, which gives the high-technology identification technique a legal standing comparable to manual signatures, the state of Utah in November made DST the first licensed certification authority in the world.
GlobeSet's CA, or certification authority, software and Surety's Digital Notary will be part of DST's service bureau program, which will include a range of technologies based on data encryption.
GlobeSet has an ownership link to Certco, a New York company that provides the root certificate authority responsible for accrediting all CAs in Utah. Both were start-ups of BT Ventures, Bankers Trust New York Corp.'s venture capital subsidiary.
Certco also won the root CA designation for SET, the Secure Electronic Transactions protocol promoted by the MasterCard and Visa associations for Internet payments. GlobeSet specializes in SET software.
Digital certificates, and hence a managing certification authority, are a key component of SET, as they must be issued to all parties in an electronic transaction.
Working with Tandem Computers Inc., a Compaq Corp. subsidiary, GlobeSet claimed a first when it delivered a system based on the SET 1.0 version on Sept. 5.
DST said banks, card associations, card issuers, and transaction processors are all candidates to take advantage of its strategic alliance with GlobeSet, based in Austin, Tex. Customers of the service bureau also get a "clear migration path" to offering the CA service in-house, said Jon Matonis, DST vice president of sales and marketing.
Together, the two companies offer "a complete package of SET-based secure certification services, a cost-effective, proven solution for Internet-based electronic commerce," said Dennis Jolly, GlobeSet vice president of sales and operations.
DST entered into a reseller agreement with Surety Technologies of Florham Park, N.J. Its Digital Notary, based on patents owned by the technology research organization Bellcore, ensures the integrity of electronic records.
Within the trust company's service bureau, the Digital Notary can authenticate the time and content of digitally signed documents, connecting them with certainty to the owner of the electronic signature.
"Because a customer's digital signature key expires and must be renewed every year, it is critical that documents that were signed with an old key can be authenticated as to the date of their original signing and certified that the content of the document has not been altered," said DST president Scott Lowry.
"As the undisputed leader in its industry, Surety Technologies brings that record integrity to our customers," he said, adding that the technology is particularly useful in on-line banking and stock transactions.
"Banks have a centuries-old history as reliable repositories of trust," Mr. Lowry said on Nov. 19, which Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt declared Digital Signature Signing Day to commemorate the initial CA licensing.
"DST's association with Zions Bank makes it ideally suited to perform the role of a trusted third party, which is essential in issuing, storing, and certifying digital signatures."