UNIPASS, the individual digital certificate available to every financial adviser in the UK, replaces the need for an individual password to access the company's extranet.
The industry initiative, which was launched in September 2002 by Origo, the technology standards body for the financial services industry, is now being widely adopted across the industry. Over 2800 financial advisers are currently using the system, with the number of registered users increasing daily.
This announcement also follows the recent adoption of UNIPASS by UK's major portals, CoFunds and IFAEngine. Financial houses Standard Life, Norwich Union, Prudential, Skandia and AXA were among the first to accept UNIPASS and a further six providers, including Friends Provident and Clerical Medical, expect to implement the system during 2003.
UNIPASS is free to IFAs and is paid-for by providers. It gives financial advisers a secure, unique online identity, providing them with access to all the services they use on the internet with the use of one simple 'digital key'.
According to Bob Tough, e-business manager at Scottish Equitable: "UNIPASS is a valuable joint-industry initiative which we have backed since the idea was first established. It solves the dual problem of providing a common security mechanism for all providers to utilise, whilst eradicating the need for IFAs to remember different passwords and log-in names to enter different sites.
"With approximately 10,000 registered individuals using our extranet we are committed to providing technology solutions that make it easier for IFAs to do business. UNIPASS is just one of many projects we have undertaken to help achieve this."
While Scottish Equitable does not plan to remove user names and password access to the site for existing customers, it expects to see a natural shift to UNIPASS as more IFAs and providers adopt the certificates.
Paul Pettitt, managing director of Origo, commented: "Scottish Equitable has been an ardent supporter of the UNIPASS initiative since it was first launched. The more key industry players like Scottish Equitable adopt the UNIPASS system, the quicker the uptake will be across the whole industry.
The next stage will be for providers and portals to switch to UNIPASS and remove the password methods for entering the site. We expect to see providers beginning this process over the coming months."