Life firms use digital certificates

After years of delay, financial services companies have this week started to introduce digital certificates, opening the way for...

After years of delay, financial services companies have this week started to introduce digital certificates, opening the way for more widespread sales of pension and life assurance products online.

Today (5 September) sees Prudential, Norwich Union and Skandia go live with services using the Unipass digital certificates, following extensive trials. Sixteen organisations, including Standard Life and Legal & General, will offer services by the end of the year, with more coming on board next year, according to life and pensions standards body Origo.

It is set to be the most widespread use yet of digital certificates in the financial services industry.

"The real value-added services are coming on track now," said Paul Pettitt, managing director at Origo. He said the delay in take up had been caused by companies ensuring that their back-end systems were able to support the certificate scheme and working on the services to be provided.

Pettitt denied claims that the industry is behind the game in the adoption of digital certificates. "It is services that will drive take up of digital certificates and we are pretty much at the leading edge in terms of using digital certificates with services," he said.

Adam Byford, e-business development manager at Prudential, said Unipass would boost take up among independent financial advisors (IFAs) and help the industry cut costs by transferring work online.

"It is a crucial piece in the jigsaw to drive increased usage across the IFA community - there is a big appetite across the industry for this" he said. Byford added that Prudential would use Unipass to support all the services it offers to IFAs on its two extranet sites.

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