BEP solutions for Internet payments

Local Government bodies can now more easily identify, select and procure products and services for enabling online service delivery through the Business Entry Point initiative.

BEP has established a standing offer panel to help government agencies, including Councils, adopt the most effective systems for receiving payments from their clients via the Internet. The panel is the result of an extensive Request for Proposals process which the BEP Management Branch of the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business has just undertaken.

The panel will initially comprise standing offers and the latest updates from more than 20 specialist companies whose numbers will be expanded over the 12 to 18 month life of the panel. The website address for getting more information about the panel of Internet payment service providers from early July 99 is http://about.business.gov.au

"Any Local Government body can use the information provided by the panellists to make an informed decision about the best solution for their specific requirements," said Catriona Vigor, a BEP Director.

The types of products and services offered by suppliers on this panel range from fully managed solutions, where a supplier creates the website and catalogue as well as handling the payment through to your Council's bank, through to supply of software or hardware to enable your organisation to set up an Internet payment system or parts of that system.

The BEP initiative of the Australian Federal Government is a cross jurisdictional multi agency project which is reducing the compliance burden on businesses by providing a single entry point for business transactions with government agencies via the Internet.

Council officials can contact Catriona Vigor from the BEP Management Branch, Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business by email at catriona.vigor@dewrsb.gov.au or by facsimile on (02) 6121 7359.

Authentication procedures assure e-commerce users

One of the fundamental building blocks of electronic commerce is being able to minimise risk exposure by having a high degree of confidence in the security of each transaction, according to BEP Director, Paul Griffin.

Knowing you are dealing with the people you believe you are dealing with and sending and receiving information and payments securely is essential," he said. It has been recognised that the security and integrity of messages and payments, and the authentication of users, is one of the main factors which can limit the number and variety of groups that are becoming involved in e-commerce.

The Commonwealth Government has confronted security and confidentiality issues surrounding e-commerce with a range of authentication procedures under the umbrella of the Gatekeeper strategy. Under the Gatekeeper system, an authorised credible third party issues certificates to both parties who are involved in a transaction or a series of transactions.

The certification gives the parties access to an encryption code which each party can be certain belongs to the other. In this way, financial transactions can be made over the Internet with the confidence that they are being directed to the accredited receiver.

Currently, users of the Gatekeeper system, such as the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Centrelink, are choosing to use 'asymmetric' encryption which involves Public Key Technology (PKT). In general terms, the sender encodes the electronic message with one of two unique 'keys', which can only be opened by a receiver with a corresponding knowledge of those keys.

Other fundamental issues which PKT addresses include those of nonrepudiation and legal responsibility. Local Government bodies will be able to set up their systems, including those for payments, so that there is a record which leaves no doubt that transactions were sent and received. And if there is a dispute between the two parties, there is a trail of evidence for clarification or settlement of claims.

Gatekeeper and PKT are significant steps forward for electronic service delivery for Councils and others wishing to engage in secure, confidential e-commerce. It will allow them to move away from traditional forms of business interface with government at their own pace.

Online transactions will be one of a number of options and organisations will be able to choose what level of electronic engagement is appropriate for their organisation.

Further advice on how the overall BEP system can work for your local government agency or business community, and how it will shape future economic development, is available from Paul Griffin, from the BEP Management Branch by email at paul.griffin@dewrsb.gov.au or telephone (02) 6121 7178.

Click here to visit the Business Entry Point web site