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IBM folds e-wallet

Big Blue discontinues its electronic wallet product, which the computing giant had heavily touted during the early days of online shopping.

IBM has discontinued its electronic wallet product, which the computing giant had heavily touted during the early days of online shopping.

IBM stopped selling the product, dubbed Consumer Wallet, as of May 8 but will continue to provide support for existing customers, a spokesman said.

IBM had joined a long list of technology companies that either linked with a financial services partner such as Visa or MasterCard or independently developed electronic wallets, or e-wallets, for the emerging mass of cybershoppers.

The idea behind e-wallets was to make it easier and safer for consumers to purchase items over the Web. Companies were also targeting an audience of Internet shoppers that were leery of punching in their credit card numbers online.

With an e-wallet, a consumer would only have to register once to shop at multiple retail outlets. Typically, online shoppers are required to enter their name, shipping address, and credit card number before a site lets them make a purchase. The process can be cumbersome if consumers intend to shop at many different sites; but e-wallets aimed to streamline that process.

IBM, which unveiled the product a few years ago, said demand essentially slowed as more and more consumers began to feel more comfortable purchasing items over the Internet and grew accustomed to the process.

When buying online was a new phenomenon, things like e-wallets and cybercash were in demand, but "the industry has seen that over the course of the Internet, (these issues) took care of itself," said Joe Stunkard, a spokesman for IBM.

Stunkard would not disclose how much IBM invested in the Consumer Wallet product but said it was not a substantial amount.