Memorandum by Digital Exchange
EXCHANGE & TRAMS
Digital Exchange is the information service provider
(ISP) arm of Trams plc focusing solely on business users wanting
permanent online connection to the Internet at competitive pricing.
The business-to-business ISP offers the whole range of Internet
services, simple connectivity, Web hosting and emergency support
service, Web and e-commerce design and consultancy.
Digital Exchange recently became the first ISP
to offer small to medium enterprises (SMEs) ADSL service for commercial
use. The high-speed digital line allows information to be downloaded
at up to 40 times faster than today's modems, which will be ideal
for small businesses and self-employed wanting to engage ine-commerce
and Internet-related working practices.
Trams plc, is Apple UK's number one value-added
reseller, and leading provider of IT to City corporates, with
the capability to specify, design, supply and support complex
multivendor sites. The company has extensive networking skills
based on both PC and Apple platforms, and is authorised for major
vendors including Compaq, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Toshiba and
Digital Exchange's parent company was formed
in 1990 and over the two divisions now employs over 75 staff and
has a turnover in excess of £15m. With its headquarters based
in central London, Digital Exchange is ideally placed for the
fast provision of supply of new technology to City based clients,
as well as businesses across the UK.
Q: What needs to be done to create confidence
and to stimulate e-commerce in Europe?
To create confidence there needs to be a secure
method for merchants to obtain fraud-free payment over the Internet.
This is the biggest single barrier to e-commerce.
UK banks currently consider e-commerce as "customer-not-present"
transactions, where it's the merchant that takes all the risk
of the purchaser being fraudulent. At present the banks will not
even share information with each other to enable card holder information
to be verified. The lead in this has come from the US where the
banks operate an "address verification" scheme where
it is a straightforward process to check that the address for
delivery given is correct. The banks cover the fraud risk to the
merchant if the delivery is made to that address. We need this
system in Europe.
In order to stimulate e-commerce governments
need to stop talking about it and start embracinge-commerce themselves.
Preference should be given to those who communicate with Government
electronicallyrather like the Chancellor's announcement
that a five per cent discount would be given to those who file
their tax returns electronically.
However this is heavily dependent on the Government
sorting out its own systems. At present a very high proportion
of tax returns to the revenue, for example, are rejected because
of errors in the revenue system. That's not really an acceptable
situation for the way forward.
Q: Will codes of conduct and co-regulation
provide sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention
by national governments and the EU?
In my opinion there should be as little regulation
as possible. Codes of conduct and self regulation will not be
perfect and some dishonesty will occur, but this should be dealt
with by conventional means. There should be a central agreement
between governments so that criminals cannot hop past jurisdiction,
trying to avoid prosecution.
Perhaps there should be an EU definition of
e-commerce fraud, which can be prosecuted in all member countries
irrespective of where the crime is alleged to take place. A central
EU liaison would be required to make sure that only one country
prosecutes each crime.
Q: Should existing EU institutions' internal
structures be changed, or new ones created, to improve policy
development and co-ordination?
I think that it is commonly accepted that all
the EU institutions need radical change, irrespective of the impact
of e-commerce. However all institutions should certainly actively
embrace e-mail, at the very least, as well as publishing documents
over the Web; and should give preference (or possibly even exclusivity)
to those who communicate with them electronically.
Q: How can structural change be brought about
fast enough to accommodate the growth of e-commerce?
In order to maintain cross-border cohesion,
all IT systems should be able to communicate in a common standard,
Secondly, a single chief executive, with wide
powers to enforce change, should be appointed to drive e-commerce
forward. This is not a "jobs for the boys" appointment
for a superannuated politician but one for a widely respected
figure from the IT Industry who knows what needs to be done and
how to do it.
18 April 2000