In a new move welcomed by e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt, the Royal Mail has joined with the British Chambers of Commerce in a joint venture offering businesses the chance to trade securely online. For £50 annually, companies will receive ChamberSign - software keys that confirm the identity of e-commerce traders and scramble commercial information so that it can be read only by the intended recipient.

E-security (or its lack) is one of today’s most pressing issues in online trading, and many organisations are said to be deterred from venturing online by security worries. According to the Royal Mail’s website, although 76% of large UK businesses use the internet, 71% of them do not send confidential or sensitive information via the internet.

Local chambers of commerce across the UK will be able to issue the digital certificates, while technical support is provided by ViaCode, the Royal Mail's digital security service. The standard is being developed with ten other European countries and the BCC says that within a year, it will be possible to use ChamberSign certificates online across international borders.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)