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Speech by Postmaster General on "e-Cert provides
Two-Factor Authentication for Secure e-Banking"


Following is a speech (translation) by the Postmaster General, Mr Allan Chiang, at a media conference on "e-Cert provides Two-Factor Authentication for Secure e-Banking" today (June 23):

Mr Dickson, Mr Yuen, friends from the banking sector and the media, and distinguished guests,

    Good morning.

    I would like to extend my thanks to all of you for coming here on behalf of Hongkong Post.  As new technologies mushroom to harness the full potential of Internet, e-commerce has become part of our daily lives.  To date, more people are online, and more people are getting scammed.  In the viewing, the growing dread of doing transactions on the Net, including e-banking, is noteworthy.  Some people are worried about Internet identity theft that almost always has terrible consequences of financial loss.
    Nonetheless, Internet technology is said to be the gateway to the future and e-commerce can lead to a transformation of individual lifestyle itself.  It would be very regrettable if potential Internet frauds drive the general public away from the cutting-edge convenience of e-commerce, resulting in a slowdown in the growth of Internet landscape.  Hongkong Post is deeply committed to its vision of "Linking People, Delivering Business" that complements the Government's "Digital 21 Strategy" for positioning Hong Kong as a leading e-business community.  Hence, we have introduced e-Cert authentication services and have provided a secure public key infrastructure for the Government, the business sector and the public, to foster the development of secure electronic transactions.
    We have been making our best efforts to promote e-Cert applications to various industries, as well as helping the public and the commercial sector use e-Cert with enhanced services for secure electronic transactions.  Hence, the one-year free e-Cert offer with the smart ID card was introduced in mid-2003.  Today, more than 950,000 Hong Kong residents have embedded e-Certs into their smart ID cards.  This critical mass of e-Cert holders is an important cornerstone for the development of e-commerce and online service in Hong Kong.
    The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has required the banking sector to provide "two-factor authentication" for secure e-banking.  I am very glad to see that 12 banks have adopted e-Cert as a two-factor authentication tool and this will utilise the capability of e-Cert as a secure infrastructure to bring enhanced security to the public.
    People can now adopt e-Cert as a two-factor authentication tool easily and conveniently.  The user simply needs to insert his or her e-Cert embedded smart ID card into a smart card reader and type the password.  When e-Cert is used in two-factor authentication, only the digital signature is transmitted over the Internet - not the password itself - that ensures greater security.  We can all enjoy the convenience of e-banking and be rest assured that our passwords and personal information will not be stolen by fraudsters operating through phishing emails or fake websites.
    Apart from the benefit of enhanced security, using e-Cert in two-factor authentication is cost-effective and user-friendly.  Any individual can use his or her e-Cert on smart ID card to enjoy the e-banking services of multiple banks.  There is no need to carry different authentication tools for using e-banking services of different banks.
    To encourage people to widely use e-Cert and experience its convenience, Hongkong Post will launch a new series of joint e-Cert promotions with different banks.  These promotions will include offering gifts like free smart card readers and gift coupons as a reward for using e-Certs.
    Looking ahead, the smooth run of e-Cert two-factor authentication in e-banking as expected could serve as a confidence booster to other players and consumers of the e-business world.  Once confidence in the security and reliability of e-commerce technology is established, the great potential of e-Cert as a key to the world of e-Commerce could be realised, leading to a more mature Internet services in Hong Kong.  Hongkong Post is in full support of the Government's vision of making Hong Kong a leading digital city in the globally connected world, and we are committed to promoting a wider use of e-Cert among the general public for such purpose.    
    Thank you!

Ends/Thursday, June 23, 2005
Issued at HKT 17:47


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