E-sign on the Virtual Dotted Line: E-Signatures in Financial Services

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30 April 2001


Boston, MA, USA and Atlanta, GA, USA May 1, 2001

E-sign on the Virtual Dotted Line: Electronic Signatures and the Financial Services Industry

Celent suggests the success of PKI-based certificates as the most commonly used form of e-signatures technology is by no means assured, especially in the B2C sector

In a new report entitled, "E-sign on the Virtual Dotted Line: Electronic Signatures and the Financial Services Industry," Celent Communications examines the market for all types of electronic signatures, including digital certificates, smart cards, biometrics, and digitally-captured signatures. While the promise of these technologies is impressive, a fair amount of hype has surrounded the e-security industry to date. At different times, each of these technologies was touted as the next best thing.

The burgeoning e-commerce market has breathed new life into the e-security industry, necessitating a more secure method for doing business online. Since the B2B market deals with high-value transactions, the greatest potential for advanced e-signature technologies lies in their adoption by corporate clients. Celent anticipates that adoption by business clients will far exceed that of retail consumers.

"In many countries, e-signatures do not have the force of law, which adds to the confusion," adds Neil Katkov, co-author of the report. "To date, European countries have made the most progress on this front, passing a number of technology-prescriptive laws to guide financial institutions and businesses alike. Therefore, we expect Europe to lead the way in e-signatures adoption. The efforts in France and Germany will further benefit from the familiarity, and extensive use, of smart cards as a secure access device."

"A number of significant barriers to the adoption of advanced security mechanisms still remain," comments Meredith Hickman, co-author of the report. "Advanced e-signature technologies tend to be complex and expensive to deploy and support. Plus, there are an excessive number of technology providers competing in the space offering a dizzying array of solution pieces. This has led to a fragmented marketplace with few industry-wide standards to follow."

The report examines the likely impact of e-signatures technology in various financial services sectors, including banks, brokerages, and insurance companies. Celent also analyzes adoption trends and spending plans as well as identifies which types of technologies are most likely to capture market share.

A Table of Contents for the report is available online.

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