Mobile communications outfit, Vodafone UK is to commence the UK's first secure mobile electronic signature trial in April. The trial, to be conducted with the Radiocommunications Agency (RA), an executive agency of the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), aims to establish the electronic signature technology promising to underpin mobile commerce.
Paul Donovan, managing director (Commercial) of Vodafone UK, says legally recognisable electronic signatures are fundamental to the UK's mobile commerce strategy. "As the Government has already announced plans to allow individuals to submit tax returns electronically using digital signatures, we hope that these trials will go some way towards establishing the technology and help the DTI to promote the UK as the European leader of mobile commerce," he says.
Using information contained on their SIM smartcard, present in mobile phones, Vodafone customers will have the potential to use their mobile device whenever and wherever they currently use their signature. Whereas today we write cheques, pay by credit card or debit card, sign mortgage or stock trading contracts and in our working environments sign holiday forms or timesheets, in the future these transactions could all be completed via a mobile phone, says Donovan.
Vodaphone has worked in partnership with SmartTrust, Giesecke & Devrient, Secartis and GlobalSign to incorporate the requisite technology into its mobile network.
During the trial, fifty RA staff will complete and electronically sign their travel or subsistence forms while away from the office, using a Siemens C35i digital GSM mobile phone. When prompted, users will enter a PIN number to release a cryptographic signature which guarantees the signature is unique and ensures the integrity of the data being signed.