The multimillion-pound digital certificate scheme, developed by industry standards body Origo, is the most ambitious digital certificate scheme for doing business online since Identrus was launched in 1999.
The life and pensions scheme, owned by Origo Secure Internet Services (OSIS), could eventually pave the way for online pensions and mortgages. Digital certificates, a digital passport for doing business online, guarantee the identity of each party transacting online.
However, a spokesman for OSIS said currently about a dozen life and pension companies were trialing the digital certificates to check that they work efficiently.
Independent financial advisers (IFAs), which sell the bulk of financial services products to the public, will have to wait until September before using the digital certificates when doing business with the life and pensions companies.
A handful of IFAs will test the certificates.
"They will be using [the digital certificates] to replace the multitude of user names and passwords IFAs need when logging on to the extranet of the life and pensions companies and industry portals," said Garry Miller, general manager for OSIS. "The idea is to let the activity ramp up over the summer and launch it properly in September."
Internet and communications service provider Thus has been awarded the contract to register certificates, which BT will issue.
Financial services companies will subscribe to the scheme, but the certificates will be free for IFAs.