DALLAS (05/05/2000) - Entrust Technologies Inc. earlier this week here at the SecureSummit 2000 show announced a liaison with First Data Corp. of Atlanta that should give Verisign Inc. some competition.
The deal will see First Data become a reseller of Entrust digital certificates for both WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and Web use. In addition the two companies have agreed to form a joint sales team, co-market the offerings, and split the revenue. Certificates will also be sold over the Web (at www.fdccerts.com).
While Entrust already offers digital certificates through a number of channels, including its Entrust.net program, this arrangement with give the company access to the two million merchants that First Data serves.
First Data processes over US$1 trillion in payments each year, and has three distinct businesses: It owns Western Union, it processes point-of-sale payments for merchants and it stamps out credit cards for banks and financial institutions.
Carolyn Brackett, vice president, Internet commerce, at First Data Corp. in Redwood City, California, said the new offering will make life easier for the 88,000 Internet merchants that use First Data to do their payment processing.
Currently all of those merchants need digital certificates in order to do business with First Data, "but the difference is that now those merchants must, on their own, go out and get the certificates," said Brackett. "Now as a reseller of these certificates we can take them through the whole process."
She added that First Data already collects the same information from the merchants that Entrust needs in order to issue certificates, so there is no point in having the applicants submit the same material twice.
Both Visa and Mastercard mandate that online merchants have digital certificates in order to do payment processing, but neither one specifies what level of assurance a certificate must have. Instead merchants are charged a fee based on the type of communication used. A merchant sendingunencrypted data will pay a higher rate than one using more secured SSL channels.
The announcement means that best known issuer of digital certificates will finally have some strongercompetition, according to David Thompson, a research analyst in the global networkingstrategies division of the Meta Group.
"This will create direct competition to the certificates that Verisign sells.
Until now, Verisign had the name brand recognition. Entrust launched its initiative a year ago, but it was going so slowly. Entrust thought that people would come to them, but so far they haven't," said Thompson.
Thompson said that while First Data won't oblige their merchants to adopt the Entrust certificates, it would be in the best interest of both First Data and Entrust to encourage the practice as much as possible.
"The selling of certificates is basically a commodity. You have to move numbers," he said.
When the service becomes available in second half of this year, First Data will outsource the certificate authority hosting and management to Entrust, but that is unlikely to last very long. Phase two of the project will likely see that portion of the program returning to First Data's own outsourcingdivision CashTax Inc.
Entrust, in Plano, Texas, can be reached at +1-972-943-7300 or http://www.entrust.com/.