Newcomer Soltrus aims to secure e-transactions

With help from heavyweight partners Telus Corp., VeriSign Inc. and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), brand new Canadian company Soltrus Inc. is throwing its hat into the “digital trust” ring.

Using public key infrastructure (PKI) technology and VeriSign’s service-provider platform, Soltrus will offer tailored, outsourced solutions designed to safeguard communications and transactions, including authentication, validations, encryption, plus payment and wireless services.

Soltrus came into being, said Peter Ricciardi, the company’s Toronto-based president and CEO, so Canadian consumers and businesses can be as comfortable and confident doing business and communicating on the Internet as they are face-to-face.

While e-shopping, “consumers are being asked to answer their name, address, credit card number and they want to know that information is protected and securely transmitted, and that it’s only reaching the destination it’s intended to reach. Soltrus provides the technology to encrypt and secure that data so that it’s submitted privately,” Ricciardi said.

For example, if a consumer wants to buy a DVD at Soltrus ensures that the Web site legitimately operates under the auspices of HMV, then it allows to accept payments securely, and also to settle payment with the customer’s bank in real-time, Ricciardi explained.

“You’ll see on,,, a service and product we have called a site seal that today says ‘CIBC secure site’ but will shortly change to ‘Soltrus secure site’. So as we close the loop from a consumer point of view we’ve really brought all the components of trust,” Ricciardi said.

Depending on the recognition and trust in your brand, this type of verification can be very important, said Frank Koblun, HMV’s Toronto-based vice-president of e-commerce.

“HMV is a well-recognized brand so there’s and inherent trust in us already. If it was ‘Frank’s CDs and Records’ no one is going to really trust me, so having (a verification method) is even more critical. For a brand name like HMV it’s a home run for making people feel more comfortable, but smaller [sites] need it just to get to first base.”

Although Koblun said consumer surveys that track people’s desire to see these verification logos are inconclusive, going forward he sees it as important for HMV to “put it on the home page because we’re doing it as sort of a subtle marketing message to say ‘You can trust this site.'”

With 60 employees and 3,000 customers already in place, Soltrus is not just an online security vendor, Ricciardi stressed. As a managed service provider he said Soltrus can facilitate all of a company’s e-dealings, from extranets, to online contact negotiations that require a secure channel, third-party notarization and the digital version of a firm handshake.

“We know that Internet usage is accelerating, and our service allows companies to provide more capabilities online. That means greater productivity, increased revenue opportunities as consumers, companies and employees are more comfortable doing business in the digital world, (and) it will drive costs out of the business processes across the e-commerce lifecycle,” he said.

For now, building faith in digital processes depends on “getting the word out that we can embed trust in the virtual brain of the Internet,” Ricciardi said.