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UK businessowners see qualified certificates as expensive, not worth the effort

UK businessowners see qualified certificates as expensive, not worth the effort

Cost is the most meaningful hurdle to be surmounted in efforts to make qualified digital signatures commercially viable in the United Kingdom, according to an Open Identity Exchange presentation.

A slide displayed during the short presentation showed the advancing levels of digital signature standards and the continuous perception among businesses that the technique is too pricey for what it delivers. The presentation took insights from a new paper released today by OIX on the ‘Market Opportunities for eSignatures with a Qualified Certificate based on Digital Identities.’

Simple electronic signatures have the least evidential weight, followed by simple digital signatures with two-factor authentication, and then advanced electronic signatures.

Qualified certificates are public key cryptographic documents created by a qualified trust service provider.

In the UK, the industry is trying to get businessowners to accept advanced electronic signature with qualified certificates and qualified electronic signatures, a bit of trusted software on par with so-called wet ink on a paper document.

On advanced digital signatures, the UK is trailing its own member nation Scotland and the European Union, according to Pippa Whitmore, legal director of the law firm Pinsent Masons. Whitmore spoke during the presentation along with Gareth Narinesingh, head of digital identity for facial recognition provider and Mitek holding HooYu.

Whitmore acknowledged that cost is an issue but said that that might be more perception than reality without offering comparisons. It does not help, she said, that there is a lack of understanding and inertia among UK businessowners.

Narinesingh did not disagree with that assessment but said it will be changing in the near future.

The number of early use cases the pair presented was small but solid: cross-border trade and the many documentary entanglements people and businesses find themselves in as they buy and manage properties.

Whitmore noted deeds, wills, and job contracts among those people could benefit from digital, trusted signatures. Many businesses have similar headaches — deeds, property conveyances and rental agreements – that could be less troublesome if digital signatures were standard tools.

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