While Asia lags behind North America and Europe in some Internet developments by up to two years, it's only a little behind when it comes to a system of letting parties in electronic transactions authenticate each other's identity, said a computer security expert with Unisys Corp. Managing principal Sunil Misra of the firm's worldwide security practice said that the more technologically advanced continents were 'maybe a smidgen' ahead of Asia when it came to public key infrastructure (PKI). 'I'm pleasantly surprised at how quick the update is here,' said Mr Misra, after speaking on Friday at a conference sponsored by the computer products company. PKI is an established system that creates ways to do a variety of Internet transactions that would otherwise need to take place in person or over the phone, such as securities trading, filing government applications, online auctions or sending an electronic letter of credit. 'The Asians and the Europeans are learning from the US experience,' Mr Misra said. Many Internet gurus believe Asia is trailing North America and Europe by up to two years when it comes to electronic commerce, either between companies or between companies and consumers. Asia also has generally lower Internet penetration. However, some experts feel the region could leapfrog other nations, when it comes to mobile commerce. The Unisys security expert, in town from his base in Boston, told an audience of about 60 listeners that e-commerce was not dead - contrary to some opinions - and PKI was in position to be increasingly used around the globe. 'A buyer in Malaysia can buy something from a seller in Zimbabwe,' he said. 'It helps you establish your own, private community of trust.' Mr Misra also said that companies should install PKI systems primarily to exploit new business opportunities. Reducing the chance of threats, such as unauthorized access or fraud, should be a secondary consideration. 'You're going to implement PKI because it's going to enable you to grow your business,' Mr Misra said. Hongkong Post has been building up a widespread PKI system with its electronic certificate or e-Cert programme. The Government has been introducing online services and promoting e-Certs to allow citizens to pay bills, submit tax returns, renew driving licences and make other transactions over computers and stand-alone kiosks. Unisys supports Identrus, a globally secure payment products provider. Identrus, a profit-driven firm, has signed up dozens of financial institutions as members, including some in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Japan and Germany.