Memorandum by TrustMarque International
TrustMarque is a specialist Application Service Provider
enabling total management of Internet transactionsinformation,
digital or payment commercefrom purchase to fulfilment.
The company develops intelligent e-commerce
back office systems and platforms, and a portfolio of trusted
Internet transaction applications in a secure e-commerce environment,
the TrustCenter. The TrustCenter delivers a secure, multi-currency,
e-commerce trading platform, available as a fully-managed outsourced
service or as a franchise. A number of secure applications are
available including payment and order processing, fraud screening,
intellectual property rights distribution and auditing, and document
delivery and certification.
The TrustCenters support the many individual
requirements of today's e-businesses such as ISPs,e-merchants,
corporate organisations and publishers. These organisations use
TrustMarque's low risk solutions to enable secure and trusted
e-commerce. TrustMarque's head office is based in Gerrards Cross.
In addition to this facility the company has TrustCenters in Singapore
TrustMarque's clients include big names such
as Intel, Lotus, Network Associates, Symantec, Freeserve, Tesco,
Ziff-Davis and Associated News Media.
1. What needs to be done to create confidence
and to stimulate e-commerce in Europe?
An e-commerce infrastructure which is transparent
and trusted by business supported by Government and leading "trustworthy"
brands in the UK is needed to facilitate e-commerce. This can
be achieved by technologies like digital certificates carried
on smart cards or other tokens; business procedures and methodologies;
and training and educating.
There are a number of common consumer complaint
issues which currently characterise the UK/European e-commerce
market place. For example,
Companies failing to deliver goods
that have been ordered.
The lack of adequate means by which
consumers can interact and communicate with an Internet merchant
(this could be solved with the use of a "call me" button
on a website which connects the consumer with a "real"
Lack of robust complaint procedures
that are effective and have "teeth".
Lack of league tables of e-retailer
site performance published in annual reports and on an e-tailers
Lack of independent audits of the
trust procedures incorporated by an e-tailer/Internet merchant.
Additionally, credit card logos do not invoke
trust at all. What are needed are others "trust-giving logos"
that can be applied to websites, backed by recognised and trusted
organisations and substantial advertising and education campaigns.
Training and education programmes are key.
A fundamental impediment to the success of e-commerce
in the UK is cost. Whereas in the USA, the Internet is free, in
the UK it is charged as a local telephone call. Likewise, the
high rates of VAT charged on many products purchased and distributed
digitally acts as a disincentive for companies to base themselves
in the UK because costs are lower elsewhere.
For Britain to compete it needs to remove these
costs and that means the abolition of VAT on all e-commerce transaction.
With this one move the Government has the opportunity
to send a signal around the globe that it wants to be the centre
of the e-commerce world. Companies which might be planning to
locate in the USA or Asia-Pacific will be forced to think twice
when they realise the UK is serious about creating an e-commerce
infrastructure which is the best in the world.
The competition is intense and already there
are places like Singapore 1 and the Malaysian Super Corridor that
are more readily associated with e-commerce. What the UK needs
is an equivalent area which has a reputation known throughout
the world as a centre of e-commerceor as I would like it
to be called, a "Digital City".
The Digital City would have the necessary infrastructure
for e-commerce to operate. Tax incentives, and the provision of
training to equip people with the necessary skills, would attract
companies from around the world to locate there and create a centre
of excellence in the UK.
In essence, the idea is little more than an
extension of the Enterprise Zone concept of the 1980s, except
instead of a number of Enterprise Zones there would be only one
In the same way that Enterprise Zones were successful
in attracting inward investment, the Digital City would do the
same for e-commerce. And like the benefits reaped from inward
investment, the benefits from attracting a new generation of technology
companies will be immenseand at a far cheaper rate than
some of the sums used to lure big investors in the early 90s.
2. Will codes of conduct and co-regulation
provide sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention
by national governments and the EU?
The Government has to be seen to be promoting
standards and I would see the mechanism for this as being through
a combination of self-regulation and law. The annual company returns
would be a key mechanism where specific standards of trust, dealing
with consumer complaints for example, should be addressed. Companies
are not required to focus on this area at the moment.
3. Should existing EU institutions' internal
structures be changed, or new ones created, to improve policy
development and co-ordination?
New ones have to be introduced to provide a
central focal point for all e-commerce issues. From there, they
could be directed to the appropriate department.
In the UK, why can't I go to one place and find
out all I need to know to undertake e-commerce in the country,
from finance and connectivity to training, implementation and
grants? Likewise, where can I go to find out what options there
are to implement trust in my company, and how I can leverage e-commerce
currently? It tends to be the banks etc.
4. How can structural change be brought about
fast enough to accommodate the growth of e-commerce?
By having dedicated organisation and easily
accessible infrastructure"The Department ofe-Commerce".
By providing universal and easy-to-remember log-ons and IDs so
that one ID can be used to access different sites. Why not a universal
and unique ID for everyone for everythingas per EasyID.
With a TrustMarque EasyID, anyone can go to multiple sites like
utilities and pay their bills online, just by providing an EasyID.
By Government moving faster in their thinking
and implementation. It currently takes too long to find the right
people and for them to move at Internet speed. If other governments
such as Singapore and Hong Kong can do it, why can't we?
27 April 2000