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Group works on way to make Net payments work.

--- begin forwarded text

Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 13:28:39 -0800 (PST)
From: William Knowles <[email protected]>
To: DCSB <[email protected]>
Subject: Group works on way to make Net payments work.
Organization: Home for retired social engineers & unrepented cryptophreaks
MIME-Version: 1.0
Sender: [email protected]
Precedence: bulk
Reply-To: William Knowles <[email protected]>

SAN FRANCISCO (Wired) - Someone out there is actually worried that you
might end up with a desktop littered with different digital wallets or
that you might not get a receipt for your pay-per-view time visiting
an X-rated site.

In fact, a group of 30 electronic payment companies are working on a
protocol that would ensure that all digital wallets and cybercash
registers will know how to talk to each other and issue the proper
digital "paper trails."

Spearheaded by ecash pioneer, Mondex International, the group is
working on an way to make a single digital wallet on the desktop to
interact with the payment systems designed by everyone from CyberCash
to AT&T to Wells Fargo Bank.

By using XML (extended markup language), the protocol is designed to
ensure interoperability among the software used by buyers, sellers,
and financial institutions to carry out online transactions.

The open trading protocol hasn't gotten half the attention that SET,
the secure electronic transaction protocol, has. And, at first glance,
its job may not seem as crucial since it's not about guaranteeing the
security of transactions.

But those aboard the new protocol-defining body say their system of
compatible operations is key to getting consumers to really embrace

"Imagine if you've got an IBM wallet, a Microsoft wallet, and a
VeriFone wallet," suggested Mondex International development
co-director, David Burdett.

"Unless you have some standard way in which these wallets can
communicate with each other and with merchants, you aren't going to
end up with interoperability and the consumer's going to have to have
lots of different wallets on the PC."

The goal of the open trading protocol is to make transparent the
traditional steps in a transaction: the offer for sale, agreement to
purchase, generation of receipt, and attendant paper trail. And to
make it all happen with no more than a click of the buyer's mouse.

"(The open trading protocol) is trying to replicate in the virtual
world what people have in the real world: things like invoices, making
payments, getting receipts and delivery of goods," said Burdett. And
to guarantee that you can have real-world accountability, even for
virtual purchases.

"If you're only getting delivery of virtual goods over the Net, such
as software or entertainment content that you pay for, there's no
physical delivery at all; but you still want a receipt and all the
other normal aspects of a transaction," Burdett said.

A preliminary version of the proposed common language was posted
early this month to the OTP Web site, by the 30-member consortium,
which includes CyberCash, DigiCash, IBM, MasterCard, Mondex, Netscape,
Oracle, Sun Microsystems, VeriFone, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Conspicuously absent from the coalition are Visa International,
which reportedly declined to join the coalition when invited by
Mondex, and Microsoft, which apparently opted out of the group's
plan because it is busy developing an alternate standard called
the Value Chain Initiative.

Still, Microsoft's absence isn't expected to thwart widespread
adoption of the protocol.

"There's a lot of flexibility with these protocols," said Zona
Research analyst Vernon Keenan, who pointed out that the group
protocol and Microsoft's version are not necessarily mutually
exclusive. "The key factor to determine adoption is whether ...
the major commerce server players incorporate these protocols."
And it seems at least several will, since they've already joined
the ranks of open trading protocol proponents.

The information standard is more draconian than the gold
standard, because the government has lost control of the
marketplace.  --  Walter Wriston

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--- end forwarded text

Robert Hettinga ([email protected]), Philodox
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
The e$ Home Page: http://www.shipwright.com/
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