The European Commission has awarded PricewaterhouseCoopers a contract to authenticate research submissions sent electronically, that could earn the firm ‘several million euros’ over the next five years.
Initially a one-year contract, it could be extended for another four years. Payment will be based on the number of digital certificates issued, and could reach several million euros. One million euros is currently worth #695,000.
PwC sees the contract as an important step towards becoming a certification service provider for e-commerce transactions across Europe.
Under the procedure, applicants for European research grant funding would apply to the commission’s website for a digital key code and register it with a second site, operated by PwC, Global Sign and Zergo – the UK-based Internet security specialist. When the commission receives applications, it can seek authentication from this ‘trusted third-party’ Internet site.
KPMG is also considering entering the field. Paul Barker, head of its e-commerce practice, warned all the risks were not clear, but added: ‘Organisations are going to look for trusted brand names to operate as third parties.
Big Five firms are quite well known.’
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