Magazine article American Banker

Finnish Bank Brings Digital Certificates to Mobile Phones

Magazine article American Banker

Finnish Bank Brings Digital Certificates to Mobile Phones

Article excerpt

Leonia Bank, Finland's second-largest bank, is backing its new mobile banking service with what it says is the world's first implementation of digital certificates on wireless phones.

Digital certificates authenticate the identity of users and encrypt their transactions much like a personal identification number safeguards an automated teller machine transaction. The SmartTrust division of Sonera Ltd., Finland's largest mobile phone operator, and CyberTrust, a GTE company, provided the technology to Leonia Bank.

"Our technology brings data encryption and digital signatures to transaction services," said Juha Snellman, director of services at Sonera SmartTrust.

Citigroup Inc. is expected to use the same Sonera security when it rolls out mobile banking using software from 724 Solutions Inc. in the first half. Sonera and Citigroup took a combined 40% stake in 724 Solutions, a Canadian software company, last August.

Citigroup's customers will be able to gain access to their bank accounts, pay bills, transfer funds, and trade securities by mobile phone. Bank of America Corp. plans to begin testing wireless banking with 724 Solutions this year.

Harris Bank of Chicago, a Bank of Montreal subsidiary, last month became the first U.S. bank to begin testing mobile banking. It is working with 724 Solutions to offer services via PCS digital without digital certificates.

Leonia Bank, which has $19 billion of assets, just completed a two-month mobile banking pilot with 100 customers and said it expects mobile services to be a hit with its 325,000 Internet banking customers.

"Finnish people are very Internet-oriented," said Matti Inha, executive vice president at Helsinki-based Leonia. "Having a mobile bank is now the next step."

Already, 62% of Finland's five million people use mobile phones, making Finland the world's leading user, Mr. …

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