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Speech by GCIO at "e-Cert provides Two-Factor
Authentication for Secure e-Banking" media


    Following is the speech by the Government Chief Information Officer, Mr Howard Dickson, at the media conference on "e-Cert provides Two-Factor Authentication for Secure e-Banking" today (June 23):

Mr Chiang, Mr Yuen, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you all at this press conference. I am particularly glad to learn that so far 12 local banks have decided to adopt e-Cert as their two-factor authentication in personal e-banking.  

    It was the vision of the first "Digital 21 IT Strategy" published in November 1998 that a public key infrastructure (PKI) should be set up in Hong Kong to ensure the integrity of information exchanged and authenticate the identity of participants in electronic transactions, with a view to promoting the development of electronic commerce in Hong Kong. Now, let me turn the clock back to 1998. At that time, the percentage of local households with a PC at home and those with Internet connection was 35% and 12% respectively. The penetration rates have since grown rapidly and increased to 71% for PC and 65% for Internet connection in 2004. In 1998, the most popular forms of electronic banking were probably ATM and phone banking. It might be difficult to imagine that in a few years' time, millions of bank customers would be conducting the majority of their banking transactions over the Internet.  

    Apart from the PKI infrastructure, the Government had enacted the Electronic Transactions Ordinance in 2000 and establish a voluntary recognition scheme for the certification authorities for the purposes of issuing digital certificates. The Hongkong Post Certification Authority was the first recognised certification authority set up to support the implementation of the Ordinance.

    In order to give every citizen in the community a chance to use the e-Cert, the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau and the Hongkong Post Certification Authority worked together with the Immigration Department to introduce e-Cert as the first non-immigration application in the multi-application Smart ID card in June 2003.  Hong Kong residents can opt to embed a one-year free e-Cert onto their smart ID cards.  Today, almost a million Hong Kong residents have opted to embed a e-Cert on their Smart ID card.  

    One of the objectives of the Government in building a critical mass of e-Cert holders is to encourage the business sector to develop new applications and services using e-Cert as a platform for secure electronic transactions. My colleagues and I are delighted to see that the PKI and e-Cert will be playing an important role in supporting e-banking development in Hong Kong. And we look forward to seeing more commercial e-Cert applications launched in the near future. To encourage the million e-Cert holders to use their e-Cert more often, the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau is pleased to support the Hongkong Post Certification Authority and its business partners to roll out the e-Cert Usage Promotion Programme. The first phase kicks off with e-banking applications, while the next phase will cover the full range of commercial e-Cert applications.  

    Last but not least, I would like to thank the Hongkong Post Certification Authority for its service to the public over the last five years. I encourage our e-Cert holders to take advantage of the Usage Promotion Programme and make good use of their e-Cert.  

    Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, June 23, 2005
Issued at HKT 12:59


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