2. The Project
To process electronic transactions, an infrastructure of value-added services is needed in addition to the telecommunications and Internet-communication protocols. In this regard at the center of the Bremen Online Services effort is the development of a data exchange format encapsulating both content data and security and routing functions. This data standard is XML-based and labelled "Online Services Computer Interface" (OSCI). In some important respects, it is modelled after the German banking industry's standard "Homebanking Computer Interface" (HBCI), which has helped to reduce development effort and time. Most notably, OSCI allows the integration of electronic signatures issued according to the respective EU-directive and the German electronic signature law. It also allows for encapsulation and easy conversion of many different data formats. It is structured to allow an intermediary to process the transaction, while at the same time preserving end-to-end-security between the users.
Bremen Online Services developed the necessary software and an online platform, labelled "OSCAR," which allows transactions between citizens/customers and the backend-systems within the public administration and private service providers. It handles all communications necessary to process payments and signatures, including the administrations's pay-office and the privately run trust-centers in Germany. It also performs necessary cross-functions such as logging, storing, and billing, as well as time-controlled delivery.