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IBM launches software to secure big online deals

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CIOL Bureau
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NEW YORK: International Business Machines Corp. on Thursday introduced

software that addresses one of the biggest concerns companies have about using

the Web for corporate transactions -- the need for better security.

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Up until now, security over the Internet has only been sufficient for

consumer transactions, which have an average value of about $75, said IBM's Mark

Greene, IBM's general manager of Global Banking.

"But when you're talking about a B2B transaction, the average deal size

is $750,000," Greene said. "So much higher value and therefore much

higher risk." "What's needed is an iron-clad security mechanism,"

he added.

Greene said IBM's new payment software will enable company purchasing systems

to use digital certificates developed by Indentrus, a consortium of financial

institutions formed to address the problem of secure Web transactions.

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Two large Japanese banks, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Industrial Bank of

Japan Ltd., are running tests of the software with their corporate customers.

IBM anticipates additional pilot tests and expects to see businesses implement

the software in the first half of 2002.

A consortium of 53 of the world's biggest financial institutions formed the

Identrus LLC consortium about two years ago. They aimed to draw up

specifications for digital certificates which would enable banks to vouch for

their corporate customers, in much the same way as Visa and Mastercard credit

cards verify consumer commerce.

"In those cases you and buy and the merchant doesn't know you but lets

you buy because Visa says he trusts you," Greene said. "That's the

same model that Identrus is providing now for B2B." Analysts hailed IBM's

new software as a big step toward boosting the volume of B2B commerce.

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"What's great about this is that it's large financial institutions,

which is where most of the B2B commerce is going to be flowing, and it's

international," Jeanne Capachin, an analyst with industry research firm

Meridien Research said.

Capachin added that IBM's backing for Identrus could help the consortium

establish its secure payment identification process as the standard for B2B

e-commerce. "It has the ability to close the loop on e-business,"

Capachin added. "You can actually consummate the transaction on line as

opposed to using traditional payment methods."

(C) Reuters Limited.

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