Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 E-Commerce Security Wins







April 28, 1997, Issue: 628

Section: Top Of The Week


E-Commerce Security Gains -- American Express to announce standard for electronic corporate purchasing

By Clinton Wilder with Beth Davis


The promise of widespread credit-card use on the Internet is edging closer to reality. An American Express-sponsored initiative will announce next month a set of technology and business-practice standards for companies to buy goods and supplies over the Net. Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard will acquire VeriFone Inc., the world's leading Provider of hardware and software for credit-card transaction processing, for $1.15 billion in stock.

The American Express-sponsored Internet Purchasing Roundtable will announce OBI-1, the Open Buying on the Internet standard, which will include protocols for qualified user profiles, client authentication, and catalog formats.

With companies such as American Express and HP investing heavily in Internet transaction infrastructure, backers are hoping that online payments by both consumers and businesses will begin to take off later this year or in early 1998. Roundtable member companies plan to test the OBI-1 payment standard over the next six months.

Members include purchasers such as BASF, Ford, National Semiconductor, and United Technologies, and sellers such as Office Depot and Staples. Technology vendors working with the group include Actra Business Systems, Microsoft, Open Market, and Oracle.

Pivotal to widespread acceptance of online payments is the Secure Electronic Transactions protocol, a standard backed by Visa and MasterCard that protects credit-card payments as they traverse the Internet. The first iteration of SET is slated to be released in June; a second version, which may support additional encryption schemes, is expected by year's end.

The combination of HP and Redwood City, Calif.-based VeriFone, announced last week, could be a catalyst for SET implementation. HP this week will announce the next version of VirtualVault, software that protects legacy applications and data from damage by Internet users. VirtualVault 2.0 does not support SET, but Ray Bamford, business manager for VirtualVault, says it will add SET support sometime this year.

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