BT to offer secure authentication system

BT Ignite is hoping to bolster its fortunes with a new hosted, secure payment authentication solution pitched at the banking...

BT Ignite is hoping to bolster its fortunes with a new hosted, secure payment authentication solution pitched at the banking community.

British Telecom's e-commerce solutions offshoot has enrolled Arcot Systems - a specialist authentication company in California - to help develop its 3-D Secure offering. BT Ignite will then offer 3-D Secure to organisations that issue credit cards via an application service provider (ASP) model.

The service is being introduced in preparation for the introduction of the Visa Authenticated Payment Programme in April 2002, which will enable banks and card issuers to validate cardholder identities during online transactions. Card issuers will be liable for online card fraud and will have to have Visa-approved authentication offerings installed.

"We believe we can do it [offer the solution] more cost-effectively than if issuers do it themselves," said John Hale, 3-D Secure product manager at BT Ignite.

Hale stated that the offering was ready, but that BT Ignite would not make it go live until it gets a customer. And this could take some time.

While Hales admitted that BT Ignite was talking to some card issuers, he said it was nearly impossible that any such vendor would be interested in the service before the April 2002 deadline.

"Virtually everybody we have spoken to has said they probably won't do anything until the liability shift arrives," said Hale. "I don't anticipate anyone going live until April next year."

BT Ignite refused to reveal its pricing or revenue projection for the offering, and Hale admitted that much was riding on how many users the banks manage to attract.

"It's difficult to tell [how much money will be generated] because we don't know how many card holders will actually say they want to take up this service."

Initially, BT Ignite will offer the service in the UK, but it also has plans for European expansion in the coming months.

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