The country's top five business banks are hatching a branded scheme to establish trusted third parties for ecommerce.
Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Natwest, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland want to launch an infrastructure described as similar to the 'direct debit' scheme. Trusted third parties are organisations providing security services to ecommerce merchants and buyers.
A recently formed working group will set technical and public service standards, against which the banks will launch competing services.
Discussions are being held under the auspices of the Association of Payment and Clearing Services (APACS) which co-ordinates joint initiatives between banks.
APACS head of public affairs Richard Tyson-Davis said: "We are examining how the banking industry would provide safeguards for electronic commerce."
Services using the proposed standards will target business users and could include the issuing and authentication of digital signatures and the stamping of digital receipts following transactions.
"The banking industry is looking to produce a direct debit style scheme, allowing users to claim recompense if any problems emerge," said one insider.
It is not yet clear whether the banks will seek to license their services under the government's plans to regulate ecommerce service providers.
Licensing is voluntary and gives signatures the automatic force of law. But this has been complicated by a government threat - now receding - that licensed service providers permit the tapping of encrypted messages sent to their clients.
Banks' plans to launch third party ecommerce services have been widely predicted.
For further stories see 8 April issue of Computing
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