Hongkong Post e-Cert

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Date: 18 May 2001

Visa forges strategic collaboration with Hongkong Post
through e-Cert enabled Open Platform multi-application smart cards

Hong Kong, 18 May 2001 - Visa International, the world's largest payment system, today forged a strategic collaboration with Hongkong Post with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of a Hongkong Post e-Cert enabled multi-application smart card using Open Platform.

The MOU represents an important step for the use of Open Platform smart cards, which are widely seen as the future of the payment industry. The Open Platform is a collection of specifications and technologies that enable member financial institutions to securely deploy multi-application smart cards.

This is the first time that Hongkong Post has collaborated with a payment association to explore the potential of e-Cert enabled Open Platform smart cards to give end-users greater convenience, personal security and protection.

Under the MOU, Visa and Hongkong Post will jointly study the suitability of the Open Platform to support Hongkong Post's e-Cert and its Public Key Infrastructure, and the suitability for an Open Platform smart card to carry a Hongkong Post e-Cert as a medium to authenticate the identity of the holder. The two parties will also explore possibility of running smart card pilot programmes with Visa member financial institutions using Open Platform and Hongkong Post e-Cert.

Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony today, Mr. James MURRAY, Executive Vice President, Southeast Asia & Greater China, Visa International, said: "We are delighted to partner with Hongkong Post, which is of strategic importance for us to further the development of Open Platform smart cards. Our joint efforts to explore the potential of multi-application smart cards will be positive for the industry and consumers, especially in light of the rapid growth of Internet commerce."

Mr. P. C. LUK, the Postmaster General, said: " As the first public Certification Authority in Hong Kong, one of the greatest challenges we are facing is to ensure that all sectors of the community can benefit from our Public Key Infrastructure. Today's announcement with Visa International will help to accelerate the evolution and development of e-commerce within the local community."

Pilot programmes by Visa members

Visa member financial institutions in Hong Kong have shown wide support to the Visa-Hongkong Post joint initiative. A number of members including Bank of China, Dah Sing Bank, the Hongkong Chinese Bank and Dao Heng Bank have expressed great interest in the pilot programmes.

Mr. MURRAY welcomed Visa member financial institutions' support for the initiative and believed that "the pilot programme will help enhance the competitiveness of members by offering a broader array of value-added functions to Visa smart cards in an easy and cost-effective manner."

e-Cert Open Platform multi-application smart cards facilitate ESD

The Multi-application smart cards, to be embedded with Hongkong Post e-Cert, will enable the cardholders to conduct various secure Internet transactions, which require the use of e-Cert for authentication and digital signing. One of the examples is the Government's Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) scheme. The ESD scheme allows interested parties to access public information and services 24 hours a day through the Internet and other means of electronic access.

Mr. Tony MA, General Manager, ESD Services Limited, said, "As the project executor of the Hong Kong SAR Government's Electronic Services Delivery scheme, ESDlife warmly welcomes the development of the Open Platform smart cards.

In the future, consumers will be able to authenticate and sign digital documents and to make payments via www.esdlife.com by just one single e-Cert enabled smart card. Card holders will enjoy extra convenience as they can also access ESDlife e-government and personal services through the 100 ESD Kiosks installed at Hong Kong's most convenient locations such as MTR and KCR stations, ParknShop supermarkets, government offices and shopping malls.

With the increasing participation of financial institutions, we expect the number of e-Cert holders will rapidly increase through a more extensive network of customer channels. We believe it would further stimulate e-commerce and e-government transactions in Hong Kong."

As the recognised leader in smart cards, Visa pioneered the launch of the world's first commercially available multifunction smart card in Hong Kong in 1999. At present, more than 42 million Visa-branded smart cards have been issued worldwide. Visa is of the view that smart cards - chip based payment cards - are considered key to achieving its goal of enabling u-commerce - or universal commerce - the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime and anyway over any type of device.

Visa International

Visa is the world's leading payments brand and the largest payments system worldwide. Visa-branded cards generate more than US$1.8 trillion in annual volume and are accepted at over 21 million locations around the world. The Visa organization plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in Internet based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce - the ability to conduct commerce anytime, anywhere, over any type of device.

With a dominant market share of more than 51 percent in the Asia Pacific region -- more than all other payment brands combined, Visa reported total volume for the 12 months ending December 31, 2000 reached US$326.5 billion. This figure includes US$243 billion in card sales volume, plus a further US$83.5 billion of commercial activity using Visa cards in China, as reported by Chinese member banks.

In the same period, the total number of Visa-, Interlink- and PLUS- branded cards on issue in the Asia Pacific region increased 25 percent to 253.5 million cards. Visa¡¦s Internet address is www.visa-asia.com.


Hongkong Post

To enable the development of electronic commerce in Hong Kong, Hongkong Post has created a public key infrastructure (PKI) and established on 31 January 2000 the first public Certification Authority (CA) in Hong Kong.

As empowered by S34 of the Electronic Transaction Ordinance (ETO), the Postmaster General is a recognised certification authority in Hong Kong. Hongkong Post issues digital certificates, namely Hongkong Post e-Certs, to individuals and businesses to authenticate the identity of the subscribers over the Internet. There are four types of e-Cert, namely Personal, Organisational, Encipherment and Server Certificates. Hongkong Post CA maintains a certificate repository and directory to allow the public to verify the validity of a particular Hongkong Post e-Cert prior to carrying out transactions. These services provide a secure and reliable environment for the conduct of electronic commerce in Hong Kong.

The Hongkong Post e-Cert may be used for commercial operations and secure electronic transactions in the fields of banking, finance, telecommunications, entertainment, education, health etc. The e-Cert also supports the Government ' s Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) scheme, which is available from 9 December 2000.


For more information, please contact:

Debbie Chu / Eunice Chiu

Scotchbrook-BSMG Worldwide (on behalf of Visa International)

Tel: 2863 9118 / 2863 9131

Mr. Roy SIU

Controller of Posts (Public Relations)

Hongkong Post

Tel : (852) 2921 2261

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