Government in smartcard push

Government in smartcard push
Melanie Reynolds The uptake of smartcard technology is set to grow as the government makes proposals to promote smartcard use in financial transactions, according to a leading smartcard supplier. Andrew Leigh, business manager at smartcard firm Gemplus, believes the market for smartcards is growing at 40 per cent. He expects banking card use to rise from 49 million to 690 million by 2003. Banks are keen to adopt smartcards “due to their security and the flexibility they give”, he said. The government is proposing measures to promote the legal recognition of digital signatures in electronic commerce, a key requirement for transactions. “Electronic commerce is going to be one of the engines of growth in the future,” said Barbara Roche, Minister for Small Firms, Trade and Industry. “These proposals make sure that the UK will be able to take advantage of these possibilities.” To exploit the expected growth in electronic transactions, Gemplus has launched a secure smartcard system which includes the cards and reader. Called GemSAFE, the smartcard contains the user’s digital signature and employs both public and private key encryption schemes. Inserting the card in the reader, the user has to confirm their identity using a personal indentification number. The smartcard can be used to encrypt E-mails, to which the user’s digital signature is added. This provides proof of the message’s source and that it has not been tampered with.


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