Credit checking and financial services company Baycorp takes control of New Zealand’s only public certification authority 128i in April.
Auckland-based Baycorp will pay $2 million for a 67% shareholding in Wellington-based 128i, with an option to acquire remaining shares in the company.
Baycorp general manager of group strategy, Paul Stewart, says Baycorp wanted to become a certification authority and had considered building a new business from scratch before it decided to buy into 128i. He says there is a overseas trend for credit information companies to move into the certification authority business. For example US credit service company Experian - one of the three largest in the world - has started offering this service.
"We believe it’s a natural fit to Baycorp’s existing business in terms of providing credit and financial services," he says.
"The key thing about being a certificate authority is that you’re acting as a trusted intermediary in terms of managing sensitive details and data. Baycorp already does that in respect to company and consumer credit information.
"Virtually all our services are now provided through the Internet. For example Baynet customers can access credit information through the Net. We also originate loans and mortgages through the Internet. These are very sensitive areas in terms of security of the information. People don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands and people want to be sure of who is sending and receiving the information."
When questioned about whether people would feel comfortable having a credit checking company holding their online public keys, Stewart says any information for the certification authority will be kept separate from the credit checking business. "It’s absolutely imperative that that happens. The privacy laws are very strict about what information on companies and individuals can be used for."
128i, was launched in Wellington in September 1998. The company issues digital certificates to identify and authenticate users sending and receiving information over the Internet. It also issues keys which are used to encrypt and decrypt information which is sent over the Internet.