Count Wealth implements Internet-based VPN

Aiming to be a trendsetter in the financial services industry, Count Wealth Accountants has realigned its business around the Internet.

In addition, the company is preparing to launch an Internet-based virtual private network (VPN) later this month.

Said to be one of the first Australian financial services organisations to embrace the Internet and e-commerce capabilities, Count Wealth made the decision to "move to the Internet as a way of business" in March 1998, Fiona Halar, IT manager, said.

According to Halar, since the decision Count Wealth has set up a Web site enabling its 450 accounting and investment customers to access newsletters, download software, and correspond with the organisation electronically.

Later this month the company plans to launch business applications such as its client portfolio management system online, giving customers the ability to access the central database through the Internet and company VPN.

Previously the organisation ran a dedicated dial-up network and relied on paper and fax correspondence.

According to Halar, following an evaluation process which included considering solutions from Oracle and IBM, Count Wealth opted for an integrated VPN solution from Check Point Software Technologies and Xylan.

Under a partnership agreement with Check Point Software Technologies, Xylan has integrated Check Point's Firewall 1 product into every Xylan switch to provide users with a secure VPN solution for multiple clients on a single switch.

For Count Wealth, the solution allows clients to connect securely to the organisation's VPN.

"Clients simply log on to their Internet service provider (ISP), point their browser to the Count Web site and enter an encrypted IP and password. Once authenticated, clients can view and download the latest information," Halar said.

According to Halar, Count Wealth has invested $300,000 in the project to date, but expects further development costs as more applications are brought online. The organisation also expects to make savings of more than $1 million from the transition.

Halar said once Count Wealth has its applications online, the organisation plans to introduce two-way e-commerce transactions. However, electronic signatures may hold up plans, Halar said.

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