By Ki-Hyun Oh, Director
Head of New Business Dept.
Korea Trade Network (KTNET)

 With the launch of an e-document storage system expected in the first half of next year, the interest of related organizations and business communities is growing. This is because in Korea, where enterprises spend more than a trillion won annually for distribution and storage of paper documents, the launch of the system is expected to signal full-scale implementation of the transition from paper documents to e-documents.

 Therefore, the launch of e-document storage heralds the arrival of the e-trade era and is expected to have a major impact on corporate competitiveness in the future as well. Particularly in the trade sector, which utilizes complicated documents, e-documentation will boost Korea's export competitiveness significantly through a remarkable reduction in auxiliary expenses and simplification of procedures.

 To firmly establish this system, above all, it is imperative that e-documents be stored safely and that the originality, integrity and transmission/reception point of time be verifiable. The government intention to designate reliable third parties as public certified e-document storage providers stems from these requirements. In this respect, the Framework Act on e-Commerce cites the ability to prevent forgery/falsification of e-documents and to effect safe and trustworthy storage as qualifications for an e-document storage provider. To ensure this, the government is to examine manpower and technological capabilities, financial status and facilities and equipment and then designate those meeting the requirements as public certified e-document storage providers.

 There are still a lot of difficulties ahead for e-document storage providers, which are drawing high expectations from business communities, before they are able to assume their intended roles and functions.

 The first issue is compensation for damage or loss. If an e-document storage provider causes certain damage or loss to users, it should compensate them. If a subsidiary of a large business group has been designated an e-document storage provider and stores information from subsidiary firms, its neutrality as a reliable third party could be questioned. There is also the potential for dispute as to whether the files created after scanning original documents, such as sales slips, are in fact true copies or note. To implement an effective e-document storage system, problems such as these must be resolved smoothly.

 Another thing to consider is that in the establishment of a public certified e-document storage system we must be cautious about overheating of the market. If the market order becomes confused in the initial stage due to mistakes and results in service failures, the firm establishment of the e-document system may face severe threats.

 A public certified e-document storage system is an indispensable element in the distribution of e-documents and their verification and evidence trail. However, we should not overlook the fact that excessive competition and duplicate investment may worsen market irrationality.

 Now is the time for the government and private businesses, regardless of whether they are large or small & medium enterprises, and related and unrelated firms, to pool their wisdom so that establishment and operation of a public certified e-document storage system can take solid root at an early date

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