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RealTime IT News

Digital Authentication Players to Merge

By Erin Joyce

Consolidation has arrived in the market for providing digital authentication services. Certificate authority consortium Identrus LLC said it would acquire fellow certificate authority player Digital Signature Trust (DST).

The sellers of DST are Zions Bancorporation and the trade group American Bankers Association (ABA) which had a 50-50 stake in the company. DST specializes in providing managed PKI (public key infrastructure) services to mid-market clients and government agencies.

The new company will retain the Identrus name and will be headquartered in New York, with offices in Salt Lake City, London and Washington, D.C. Terms of the sale were not released.

The deal brings over 60 international financial services institutions under the roof of Indentrus, which counts major money center banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and FleetBank among its members.

The acquisition comes as the financial services industry moves to standardize international messaging standards and shorten the clearing time on trades from three days to one day after a trade.

Part of the mission of Identrus, which was formed by a consortium of major international banks, is to stand behind the deals by providing verification of the financial health of both trading partners, and to make sure the deal actually gets done after the "digital handshake."

The acquisition also comes as the use of digital signatures to legally bind documents starts to spread from theory to application.

Greg Worch, chief marketing officer of Identrus, said DST is helping the Social Security Administration's pilot program that allows companies to send withholding reports to the agency in digital form, along with a digital signature. The program is in official use this year.

DST is also helping the General Services Administration in a similar iniative designed to allow federal entities to interact with citizens using digital certificates that authenticate their identity.