• Share knowledge, foster innovation and instill best practice
  • Create and publish standards underpinned by a collaborative, multi-stakeholder consensus-based approach, engaging with industry experts, government bodies, trade associations, academia, businesses of all sizes, consumer representatives and all relevant stakeholder groups.
  • Encourage the use of standards to improve the quality and safety of products, services and systems
  • Represents UK interests into European and international standards organizations
  • Advise UK Government on how standards can be used to help deliver policy objectives
  • Provide technical assistance to regional and national standards bodies across the globe to enable the increase in uptake of standards by the public and private sector to inspire trust, facilitate trade, accelerate change and economic growth, and achieve their SDGs.

British Standard Institution (BSI), the UK’s National Standards Body (NSB), represents UK interests in international and regional standards development organisations. It helps to improve the quality and safety of products, services and systems by enabling the creation of standards and encouraging their use across all sectors. We publish over 3,100 standards each year, underpinned by a collaborative approach, engaging with industry experts, government bodies, trade associations, businesses of all sizes and consumers to develop standards that reflect good business practice, protect consumers and facilitate international trade. BSI also has a strong international interest in supporting standardization in developing countries, we co-ordinate the Commonwealth Standards Network, comprising some 52 NSBs.

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BSI’s Exclusive Interview
June 29, 2021
Would you like to tell us how BSI’s work and activities specifically touch upon e-commerce and the digital economy?


As the UK’s National Standards Body (NSB), BSI plays an important role in developing standards that support the digital economy in a range of areas including data, security and trust. In a world of rapid technological change, BSI’s collaborative and multi-stakeholder consensus-based approach with industry experts, government bodies, businesses of all sizes, consumers and other relevant stakeholders, ensures that standards reflect distilled knowledge good practice. Some of the worlds most used international standards originated as British Standards, including ISO/IEC 27001 Information Security Management, the world’s most widely used standard for Cyber Security.

Standards can build trust in innovative applications of new technology, ensure trust in and speed of adoption of new technology and open-up global value chains. They help tackle concerns about cyber security, interoperability and privacy. For example, PAS 499 on digital identification has been paramount in building trusted digital identification systems, in areas of strategic importance.

As digitalization in the UK has intensified, so has the growth in standards, both in number developed and uptake. For example, research commissioned by BSI previously estimated that there were 400 standards developed in relation to IoT. A wider analysis on the implementation of standards in the UK indicates the bulk of uptake lies in systems security.

What type of support do you offer for developing and least developed countries to build national digital resilience and promote trust in e-commerce with international standards?


BSI is creating a trusted framework to shape, share, embed and support innovation, and the safe and reliable use of new technology, data and devices. As with many growing areas of technology, the market currently lacks accepted best practice and clear standards. The approach BSI has developed to underpin standards in the digital economy, promotes national digital resilience and trust in e-commerce.

Apart from being an active partner with UK organizations in promoting digital resilience and transformation, BSI, with the support of the UK Government, has established the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN), a community of 52 of the 54 NSBs from the Commonwealth nations. The CSN is a collaborative network that supports trade, economic growth and prosperity throughout the Commonwealth, by promoting increased awareness, development and use of international standards. Furthermore, BSI has been providing technical assistance to empower partner NSBs to support their governments in achieving their public policy objectives, and SMEs in their transformation processes.

Through being a member of the eTrade for all network, BSI is exploring how the BSI experience in supporting digital transformation, can be disseminated to the developing world. BSI has published a whitepaper, which examines the role of standards in supporting the transition to a digital economy and in facilitating digital trade, based on the needs of developing countries.

According to your organization, what are the key challenges that developing countries will have to tackle in order to fully reap the benefits of e-commerce for sustainable development?


At a time when society is becoming increasingly digitalized, developing countries are investing in digital technology at half the rate of their developed counterparts, putting at risk the achievement of their SDGs. Apart from the well-known barriers, such as access to digital infrastructure, rigid legal and regulatory frameworks to keep up with the fast paced digital ecosystem, and the skills required to harness the opportunities afforded by digital technology, the BSI whitepaper identifies that an important barrier to uptake is the lack of trust in digital technology.

The key role that standards play in the UK to promote digitalization, and tackle concerns about cyber security, interoperability and privacy, is contrasted with the lack of uptake in developing countries. The paper suggests that international standards, which build trust in innovative applications of new technology and open-up global value chains, are the missing keystone in the bridge to a digital economy.

As in the UK, where BSI has played a convenor and enabler role in the digital transformation process, we can help the NSBs of developing countries to become more empowered. They need to be equipped to advise government policy makers how international standards can be used as an additional agile and trusted tool to achieve their public policy objectives. At the same time, they need to work with the private sector to promote the uptake of international standards, in order to help them participate in global value chains and demonstrate their digital maturity.

What prompted BSI to join a multi-stakeholder partnership such as “eTrade for all” and what are your expectations out of it?


In order to help developing countries to harness the opportunities presented by the digital economy, a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach is required, which addresses the wide range of barriers they are facing, which is captured by the eTrade readiness assessment.  eTrade for all is an active, innovative and unique network, which brings together prominent partners that have a variety of expertise and resources.  It, therefore, has the capacity to develop holistic solutions to the challenges of digital transformation and economic development.  BSI looks forward to engaging with the members to co-create pragmatic yet powerful solutions and, thereby, help developing countries improve their trade performance and, more broadly, achieve their SDGs.

Is there something else you would like to share with the eTrade for all community?


Our message is simple: international standards are a powerful and flexible tool to accelerate change and drive transformation across all sectors. We look forward to engaging with our new partners, and working together to ensure a smooth transition by governments, businesses and all members of society into that new digital economy which, based on standards, will be built on trust.