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Pay by phone for online info

Internet shoppers can now pay for information a new way: charging purchases to a home telephone bill as a 900-number call.

Internet shoppers can now pay for information a new way: charging purchases to a home telephone bill as a 900-number call.

The capability, from Alpha Base Interactive, is part of a Web browser plug-in called EZ-ID. To subscribe or buy information online, users select the 900-number option, then call a 900 number to confirm or cancel the transaction. Because of telephone regulations, the 900-service cannot be used to sell products.

The free EZ-ID software streamlines shopping at Web storefronts that use Alpha Base's EZ-Commerce service. It functions as "wallet" software that holds the shopper's identification, credit card data, payment preferences, passwords, and various forms of payment. It also enables a "digital shopping cart" that lets a shopper submit and pay for purchases from several EZ-ID-enabled sites all at once.

"We are not just about secure transactions but about making shopping easier and more enjoyable by making it quick and faster," said Geoff Halstead, president of Alpha Base Interactive.

In another new offering, Web merchants and publishers who use Alpha Base's EZ-Commerce service now can create subscription services, offer premium services or content, or charge based on time. The new "remote authorization" service is managed by Alpha Base's Metropolis database technologies, so publishers can concentrate on content or services.

Alpha Base Interactive is a service bureau that creates database-driven catalogs, processes credit card payments, and hosts Web sites for merchants. It collects a variable percentage of each transaction depending on which services a merchant uses.

Formed in 1995 by merging Alpha Base Systems with Global Artists, Alpha Base Interactive also markets multimedia and database tools for commerce, entertainment, and marketing.