MyKad offers secure transactions

  • Business
  • Tuesday, 25 Mar 2003

By Yvonne Chong

BUSINESSES can ride on MyKad and the iVest Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology for a cost-effective way to introduce or expand secure services and transactions online, said Lee Hooi Teck, director of iVest, a research and development unit in Mimos Bhd. 

“If businesses want secure online transactions, it would be more cost effective to leverage on the myKad and iVest infrastructure than to have their own security infrastructure and in-house expertise to handle the infrastructure,” Lee said. 

“They just need to concentrate on what business they want to put online. They also need not worry that their own security solutions may not be able to communicate with partners and suppliers,” she added. 

PKI is an international security standard designed for secure online transactions and communications using cryptography and digital certificate technology. It serves as a foundation to enable secure e-business transactions and e-public services.  

MyKad was the first in the world to be PKI-enabled and since its integration with iVest, applications would now be virtually limitless, offering Malaysian users greater convenience and efficiency, she said. 

There are currently over 600,000 PKI-ready MyKad (64K chip version) cardholders in Malaysia and the National Registration Department targeted to have 12 million new PKI cards by 2005. 

Lee Hooi Teck

MyKad, once PKI-enabled, has five features – authentication, non-repudiation, confidentiality, integrity and security. The features include the individual's digital signature as legal proof of transactions entered, encryption of sensitive data and a private key used for signing that is safely stored in the tamper-proof MyKad. 

“The PKI marketplace is quickly evolving and becoming an enabling technology for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce,” Lee said. 

“What is clear now it that post-PKI, the Internet would be a different place, more mainstream, more secretive and yet more certain,” she added. 

Lee said that according to International Data Corp, the total market for PKI products and certificate authority services is expected to grow at an annual compound rate of 61% to reach US$3bil by 2004. 

The Malaysian market is expected to experience similar growth, with the financial services and government sector as the key drivers . 

She said that in the near future, application service providers (ASPs) would also sit on the iVest infrastructure to provide solutions and services for companies such as the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not want or have not had the expertise to develop their own applications. 

Some companies have already voiced their interest in providing services to SMEs on the ASP model. “One of our main aims in setting up this infrastructure is to encourage SMEs to go into online transactions,” she said. 

There are now 20,000 corporate iVest users, mostly for B2B transactions. 

“They've been waiting for myKad to be PKI-enabled first before they go B2C. A few of our clients have asked if they could get the iVest 4MyKad kits this month, ahead of its launch, to make them available for their clients,” iVest marketing manager Ong Hock Kian said. 

The iVest 4MyKad kit, to be available off-the-shelf at selected IT stores next month, would spark the beginning of MyKad being used for e-transactions. 

The iVest 4MyKad kit, to be retailed at RM150, comprises three items: a smart card reader, iVest PKI software, and a prepaid voucher for a digital certificate. 

The kit users could download the certificate from the website of the Certification Authorities (CAs), or over a counter at Anjung Mimos

“We're talking with an IT distributor, which has its own network of dealers, to distribute the products to IT retail outlets. We're looking at about 30 to 50 dealers nationwide,” Ong said. 

He said the kit could also be purchased online at a discount, “because we want to encourage people to make purchases online”, at about RM20 to RM30 – the amount has not been finalised yet. 

The company has 10,000 iVest 4MyKad kits in the first batch but admits it could not gauge how fast the take-up rate would be. 

“There's nothing to benchmark on because MyKad is first in the world to be PKI-enabled. The sale of the kit would depend on the services, but then again, the service providers are waiting for more end-users before they start the services,” Lee said. 

She said that depending on how complicated the organisation's IT infrastructure was, it would take about one to six months to PKI-enable their applications, noting that businesses that used the PKI technology had reaped significant cost savings. 

“We expect to see a wider adoption of our PKI-enabled solutions by Internet businesses this year, and even faster growth next year. As more local companies embrace our PKI technology and more customers become more familiar with its benefits, the use of digital certificates and signatures will grow,” she said. 

Lee said as the market leader in PKI solutions, iVest would continue to champion the PKI technology and advocate co-operation, market awareness and confidence to enable organisations to understand and exploit the value of PKI in applications relevant to their businesses. 

It recently held a technical seminar for over 200 technology and service providers such as banks, insurance, healthcare services, government agencies and distribution companies. 

“The response was overwhelming. Service providers realise the need for this type of infrastructure. Some of the corporations that could not make it called us to arrange for meetings,” Lee added. 

iVest plans to have a seminar every quarter targeting different industries, and also the SMEs.  

iVest, an innovation of Mimos, is a leading Internet security solution provider specialising in integrating PKI technologies. Its solutions are widely used by banks, stock traders, regulatory authorities, corporations, solution providers and service providers. 

Among the range of iVest-enabled services and products are secure e-mail, secure document management, secure payment gateway, secure file, secure government flagship applications, secure global chain management, secure wireless PKI and secure web-based and non-web based applications. 

iVest is part of the PKI technical committee to standardise the PKI interface on MyKad.The company anticipates a revenue of about RM10mil this year in tandem with the increased MyKad PKI card base which would enable iVest to achieve its next targeted revenue of RM20mil by end-2004. 

Since its inception 1999, iVest has been supporting the rollout of myKad PKI and its applications. 

“Now that the B2C infrastructure is ready, we would be looking at B2B. We'll be developing customised corporate solutions different from what MyKad can offer by the middle of this year,” Lee said. 

She said iVest had been looking into the export market but not actively “because we want to have a track record locally first. This would be good year to start venturing overseas.” 

She said a number of interested parties had approached iVest, asking for joint-ventures in their countries. 

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