Deutsche Telekom on Tuesday began offering smart cards containing personalised digital signatures, which can be attached to electronic messages.
The move is a step toward making digital signatures "as normal as your own handwritten signature," said Deutsche Telekom managing director Detlev Buchal, in a statement. Digital signatures enable the receiver of an electronic message to verify the identity of the sender. The signatures will be used in applications such as online banking, electronic tax returns, telemedicine and data archiving.
Customers can now sign up to receive the smart card embedded with their unique digital signature at one of 500 Deutsche Telekom offices throughout Germany, Deutsche Telekom said. The card costs 50 marks ($US30.17), and there is an additional yearly fee of 100 marks for the services of Deutsche Telekom's trust centre. The trust centre issues and administers the smart cards, and offers related security services. Deutsche Telekom last year received the go-ahead from German regulators to set up Germany's first trust center.
Users also need their own smart card reader, which enables the computer to read and attach the signature to electronic documents. Deutsche Telekom is selling card readers as part of a package with other security components for 299 marks.