U plays part in trade links

by Peter Kauffner

The field of electronic commerce is exploding, and software developed at the University is playing a key role, said Rick Krueger, chairman of the Minnesota High Technology Council.
The software, a computer program called Secure Electronic Authentication Link, is being used by the United Nations Trade Point Development Centre to create a network of secure international trading links. Secure links make electronic trading between businesses safer and more efficient.
“The part that the University is involved with is making sure that the electronic portion of (the link) is secure so that somebody can’t access and change orders and money amounts or whatever,” Krueger said.
A secure link also screens potential buyers and sellers to ensure that they are legitimate. A series of such links has been established in the last several months.
“Last December, a secured link was established between St. Paul and Beijing, China. It was the first in the world,” said John Gunyou, director of Minnesota’s office of technology.
A month later, when Visa established its international secured link, the company announced its achievement with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. Gunyou said, “We had it a month earlier, but we just didn’t take out an ad.”
The Visa link was done on a private network, while the St. Paul-Beijing link was established over the Internet, Krueger said.
Companies and individuals who wish to buy or sell internationally may post Electronic Trade Opportunities on a web site maintained by Trade Point. The secured link gives users the confidence they need to use electronic media for business, Krueger said.
“If you don’t have a secured link, your companies won’t be conducting electronic commerce,” Krueger said.
Purchasing arrangements for the St. Paul-Beijing link are made at the World Trade Center in St. Paul. Trade Point plans to create more links at the site.
“(The World Trade Center site) will be the North American hub for all of these transactions for the UN,” Gunyou said.
Eventually it will be possible to conduct transactions from any computer with Internet access.
“Physically, you have to go somewhere right now, but over the long run you won’t have to do that,” Krueger said.