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« August 25, 2002 - August 31, 2002 | Main | September 8, 2002 - September 14, 2002 »

September 06, 2002

Amazon: Deal wifh Office Depot

Office Depot and have announced an e-commerce strategic alliance with today's launch of the Office Products store at ( Office Depot will offer more than 50,000 products, including technology products and home office furniture at

September 05, 2002

ExtremeTech: Sony, Philips jointly working on Near-Field Communications technology

ExtremeTech reports that Sony and Philips have agreed to jointly work on "Near-Field Communication", a potential competitor to Bluetooth in the short-range personal area network (PAN) market.

AP: Credit card use increasing in college students, worrying lawmakers

Nancy Zuckerbrod reports on the increasing use of credit cards by college students.

Concord EFS: Provides reduced guidance

Concord EFS (NASDAQ: CEFT) is down over 20% this morning following the company's announcements of reduced financial expectations for 2002. The company also announced that Ed Labry, currently president, will be assuming the CEO responsibilities from Dan Palmer in 2002.

September 04, 2002

RSA Data Security: Announces mobile authentication solution

RSA has announced a two-factor authentication solution that uses mobile phones.
„RSA Mobile authentication software provides an order-of-magnitude advance in delivering increased assurance of an Internet user‚s identity in an easy to use form,‰ said Graham Titterington, senior analyst at Ovum. „It is anticipated that it will be popular with both end users and organizations providing services over the Internet.‰

American Banker: It's not too late for bankers to make inroads in payments

In an opinion piece, Edward Neumann and Mary Beth Sullivan ask why banks aren't more aggressively pursuing payment-related business opportunities.
There are a limited number of areas where significant growth in demand over the next several years will create the potential for substantial revenue; the payment business is one. Banks should view the aggressive moves by new entrants and nonbanks as evidence that they are missing opportunities and that their core business is under threat. Eight years after Furash published our study, it appears that some of the more dire predictions are coming true.

ZDNet: Interview: VeriSign's Phillip Hallam-Baker

David Berlind interviews Phillip Hallam-Baker about VeriSign's view of the future. The article he wrote following the interview is also interesting.
The big benefit of this "switch" for the merchant acquirer is that, in the same way he can connect up to one merchant through this switch, he can connect up to any of the others. For the merchant looking to connect to another merchant acquirer, the switching costs of replacing protocols and leased lines have suddenly vanished. As a merchant, you can go to anyone of your suppliers and say "Ho ho, things have changed. Instead of it taking me three months to swap you out for another guy, it's only going to take me three minutes." The pricing power goes to the merchant now. That's the type of thing that happens with Web services, and when you put things through an intermediary who can connect you to anyone of those suppliers. We do this in the area of payment and I can't give you additional product plans, but there are lots of opportunities for the same type of service in Web services.
When we built Visa's Acquirer Services (now Vital Processing Services - a joint venture between Visa USA and TSYS) back in the mid-80's, one of the selling points to merchants (mentioned very quietly!) was that a merchant could connect directly to Visa technically and then broker their business relationship among acquiring banks essentially at will. Of course, merchants directly connected to First Data Merchant Services can do almost the same thing today because of FDMS' multiple alliance bank partners.

Reuters: VeriSign, MasterCard announce anti-fraud partnership

Reuters is reporting that VeriSign and Mastercard have "announced a partnership on Wednesday they said would reduce the risk of online fraud for merchants." Apparently this involves VeriSign's payment gateway supporting MasterCards Universal Cardholder Authentication Field program. MasterCard's press release is now available. Beth Cox also reports the story on
UCAF is a 32-byte field with a variable data structure that is useful to support any number of authentication approaches to cardholder identities, including: MasterCard's Secure Payment Application (SPA), biometrics, digital certificates, smart cards and even mobile and pervasive devices support. MasterCard's UCAF infrastructure allows customer data to be transported between participating merchants, acquirers and issuers through a series of hidden fields. It offers an extra level of protection by allowing customers to type in personal identification numbers along with their credit card numbers and other personal information when buying goods online.

WSJ: Banks use online bill payment in effort to lock in customers

Michele Higgins reports in today's WSJ on the more aggressive marketing of online bill payment begun by banks and major billers.
Why is electronic bill payment becoming a mantra for so many businesses? Some of course hope to save on postage and other administrative costs. But it also reflects how badly companies want to hang onto customers right now. They know that once a customer has gone through all the trouble of setting up electronic bill payment, he or she is less likely to switch loyalties -- 80% less likely in the banking industry, according to Bank of America. "It drives profitability," says John Rosenfeld, e-commerce executive there.
According to the article, Bank of America, Chase and Citibank are now offering free online bill payment to many of their customers. I just checked Wells Fargo and it looks like they're now also offering free online bill payment if you maintain $5,000 in your account.

September 03, 2002

InfoWorld: PayPal's Max Levchin

Jack Mccarthy profiles PayPal CTO Max Levchin.
PayPal, as an online payment system, is a natural target for fraud. And Levchin has almost singlehandedly saved the company from thieves bent on exploiting the system, says Avivah Litan, a vice president and analyst covering financial services at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner. "If they didn't have Max, they might have succumbed, because PayPal was susceptible to fraud and money laundering, and Max tightened them up," Litan says.

Smart Card Alliance: Annual Conference agenda

The Smart Card Alliance is holding its annual conference from October 7-10 in Scottsdale.

WSJ: Citibank emails raise privacy concern

Yochi J. Dreazen reports in the Wall Street Journal that Citibank "used an outside company to gather e-mail addresses of its credit-card customers and then sent e-mails offering recipients access to sensitive financial data without verifying each address actually belonged to the customer."

Microsoft launches MSN Wallet

Microsoft has announced that it is removing the wallet functionality it had originally delivered with Passport -- and replacing it with a new wallet tied to MSN. Microsoft announced that OfficeMax Inc.,, Blue Nile Inc. and Nordstrom Inc are participating in accepting consumer payment information at checkout from the new MSN Wallet.
For security, all MSN Wallet payment and address information is electronically encrypted and stored in a database on servers that are located in access-controlled facilities. Many other safeguards further enhance security, including comprehensive data filtering before it enters the system and an industry-standard encryption method (triple DES) that is designed to help prevent anyone but the intended retailer from decoding and reading transmitted information. Microsoft also announced that it plans to discontinue a separate shopping service, called Passport Express Purchase, to focus Passport on its core mission: to enable a robust, online authentication platform.
Separately, Joe Wilcox reports on CNET that Microsoft has begun notifying Passport users of changes that would give them more control over their accounts and increased privacy and security.
The first change only affects new account holders, who will no longer be able use a bogus e-mail address to establish a Passport. Microsoft requires consumers to use an e-mail address as their Passport ID, but had not mandated that the address be legitimate or belong to the account holder. ... The second change could bolster Passport security. Microsoft is moving all the information viewed in a Web browser, such as the login page or member services, to servers hosted in a domain separate from the authentication components. That information would come from rather than The two-domain mechanism also will eliminate the long, hard-to-decipher URL the user sees in the browser's Web address bar.

September 01, 2002

Forbes: Visa's Vision

In this cover story, Daniel Lyons reports on Visa's aspirations for a larger share of all payments.
"Credit is boring. It's yesterday's news," says Carl Pascarella, chief executive of Visa USA. "Our goal now is to displace cash and checks. We're not a credit card company, we're an electronic-payment company."


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