AdSlot 1 (Leaderboard)

Insight – E-envoy calls for accountants to help with digital certificates

Andrew Pinder was recently appointed to the post of government e-envoy, responsible for putting all 457 government services on-line by 2005, writes Tom Berry. As New Labour’s internet Tsar his main area of focus will be getting sites up and running for customs and excise, employment, social security and the Inland Revenue, as well as preparing the UK for e-commerce.

Pinder has extensive experience of both the public and the private sectors. He spent 17 years at the Inland Revenue where he started as an inspector of taxes and became director of the department’s IT division. After leaving Whitehall, he worked for Prudential, Citibank, a venture capital firm and internet start-ups.

One place where he might add value first is through digital transactions. As Pinder told Financial Director’s sister publication, Accountancy Age, finance is a crucial area in developing decent, sustainable on-line services.

“One area that is particularly of interest is the issue of digital certificates,” he told AA. “In order to do secure transactions that involve privacy, real privacy issues of the nature of tax transactions or getting money paid to you from the state or indeed e-commerce transactions of a high value, you need to have verifiable digital certificates in place.”

Accountancy’s role in developing this digital future is crucial, he says. “We are just starting to see the first digital certificates emerging. The accountancy profession potentially can play a role in helping to get those out there. It seems to me the professions, particularly accountancy, have the in-depth knowledge to be the sort of people who could actually issue the certificates.”

Pinder says he has already had informal chats with the Institute of Chartered Accountants, something he will be following up very soon. “I really want to push them (the ICAEW) quite hard. I see no reason why they shouldn’t be an issuer of certificates through their members,” he says.

The UK government hopes to save #3.7bn by switching services to the net.

Related reading