VeriSign rival guns for European business

GeoTrust is going for growth as it targets Europe's SME sector.

As VeriSign continues to come under pressure for the way it is routing traffic through its Internet address system, rival GeoTrust is mounting a campaign to overtake VeriSign's secure online transaction business with the launch of it European operations Tuesday.

GeoTrust, which provides Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates for secure transactions along with other enterprise services such as secure remote access to applications, claims to hold 20% of the secure transaction market, up from 3% two years ago.

The company is now focusing its sights on Europe's up-and-coming small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market to help it get a lead on its number-one competitor.

"We are on track to have about 50% of the market in the next 24 months," said Neal Creighton, CEO of GeoTrust. 

The company already counts on 20% of its sales volume from Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Creighton said, and is expecting to grow its market share by signing up hundreds of resellers in the region.

"The SME market is going to be the fastest growing in Europe over the next three years, and SSL certificates will be critical to their success," said Paul Tourret, GeoTrust's managing director for EMEA.

According to Tourret, growing broadband use and European Union (EU) directives regarding e-commerce security are boosting demand in the region.

GeoTrust is trying to target these potential new customers with speedy delivery of transaction credentials, which are issued 10 minutes after requests are received, at a relatively low price point, Creighton said.

The company's aggressive move into the European market comes as VeriSign is embroiled in a debate over a new Site Finder service for its .com and .net domain name business, which routes Internet users to alternative Web address when they type the wrong URL.

Competitors, privacy advocates and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have expressed concern that VeriSign is abusing its monopoly to direct users to other sites that could benefit from the user typos. It remains to be seen if the issue will distract VeriSign long enough for GeoTrust to get a tighter grip on the secure transaction market.

"As we go forward, we are putting all our forces behind the technology and automation," Tourret said.  "We have been successful in the US market and expect to do well in Europe."

Creighton said that the company was working with both France's Orange SA to help provide security for its Microsoft Windows Smartphone-powered handsets and with the UK Government, delivering digital signatures and credentials to a gateway portal. Details of the deals were not immediately available.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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