Spanish commerce has taken a united leap across
electronic trade barriers with a consolidated digital certification system
that promises secure virtual trade “at the world level.”
Spanish banks began issuing digital certificates from the Agencia de
Certificacion Electronica (ACE) last week, making the company among the
first in the world to unite national electronic payment entities under the
international Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) standard.
With the security of face-to-face transactions, virtual merchants can now verify the
validity of a credit card and online consumers will know that a merchant is
certified by Visa, Mastercard, American Express or other viable credit
“We’re now the only Spanish entity with the authorization to issue SET
certificates,” said Juan Jose Villa-Real, ACE’s adjunct director of service
development. “For the time being we don’t foresee any other certification
authority using SET, at least not in Spain.”
Backed by Spain’s primary payment institutions, ACE now issues guaranteed
certificates–linked directly to credit cards–which businesses and
consumers can use regardless of their chosen financial entity. ACE acts as
the Trusted Third Party and its certificates work with Netscape or
Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers.
Electronic commerce in Spain has yielded more than 20 million dollars in
sales this year and the adoption of the SET standard is heralded as a major
step toward rapid growth in online trade.
“I don’t know to what point it’s correct to talk about [advances in]
electronic commerce only in Spain,” said Villa-Real. “With a SET
certificate, I can buy from any shop in the world.”
At present only 14 entities worldwide have authorization by Visa
International to issue SET certificates. Mastercard International has
authorized 20 entities to do so.
ACE is a private company formed in May of 1997. Its principal shareholder
is Grupo Telefonica, with 40 percent control, followed by Sistema 4B S.A.,
the Confederacin Espanola de Cajas de Ahorros (CECA), and Servicios para
Medios de Pago, S.A. (SERMEPA), each with 20 percent.