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Identrus Poised to Take New Direction

Identrus, the New York-based provider of solutions designed to authenticate all parties in electronic transactions and provider of a global network of identity credentials, has made some significant additions to its executive board.

Identrus, the New York-based provider of solutions designed to authenticate all parties in electronic transactions and provider of a global network of identity credentials, has made some significant additions to its executive board.

Mack Hicks was hired as CTO of the company. He is the former SVP of corporate information security at Bank of America (Charlotte, N.C.). Also welcomed to the Identrus fold were John Traynor as the EVP of sales and business development, and Curtis Jensen as VP of government sales. Traynor hails from ABN AMRO Bank (Amsterdam) where he served as the group SVP and managing director of treasury management services. Jensen comes to Identrus from Marriott International (Washington) where he was the director of government sales and strategy. Both will play key roles in new customer acquisition and the extension of current relationships within the financial services, corporate and government sectors.

The hires come on the heels of the company's securing $20 million in venture capital funding this past summer and mark what Identrus hopes will be the next step in its drive to reinvent itself to be a more open organization, says Hicks. He explains that Identrus will not just seek to work with banks, but with corporations as well. While at the recent EuroFinance conference, Hicks claims the amount of interest in Identrus expressed by banks and corporations there was encouraging. "Banks and corporates were more interested in how we'll operate going forward as a more open company -- especially now that identity theft has become more topical," he says. "The problem is evident and the solution fits."

Identrus was founded by a handful of some of the largest financial institutions in the world in the mid-90s as a body to create some standard for authenticating and identifying the parties in electronic transactions. For various reasons, however, its method of authentication took off more in European banks than those in the United States as it moved to using smart cards and tokens as security devices. The company hopes to change this, says Hicks. "Now that the identity crisis has come forward in the U.S. and with the ruling by the Fed on stronger authentication, that might be changing," he comments.

According to Hicks, banks' corporate customers had not been too vocal about the amount of security they wanted for their electronic transactions. Now, however, with the increased awareness of identity theft and fraud, he sees corporations demanding better security. "We're getting a fabulous executive team to address this market and listen more to our customers," he says. Not that Identrus did not do that in the first place, he is quick to add. "We always listened to our customers, but before they were strictly the banks. Now we're looking to be a kind of fulfillment company rather than something that's strictly on the back end. We won't get in the way of banks' relationships with their corporate clients by any means."

Part of Hicks' job will consist of looking at Identrus' policy and rules set to see how it can be more open and accessible. He says Identrus was perceived by some as too closed with regard to how its system operates. "So without relieving ourselves of our intellectual property, we'll open up a bit more to the vendor community, banks and corporations," he remarks. "They don't have to buy into the whole nine yards to understand how [Identrus] works."

Hicks, who only had a one-day transition from when he retired from BofA to when he arrived at Identrus, may have his work cut out for him, but he is excited nonetheless. "The real challenge will be how to meet improved security while maintaining flexibility in the [Identrus] platform," Hicks explains. However, the changing market will lend Identrus some momentum in this regard. "The marketplace and interoperability of some tokens are going to give us more flexibility [in the product line] to be more open. This is good convergence for us in terms of timing."

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