CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Tech Industry

Another setback for SET

The oft-delayed Secure Electronic Transfer protocol is postponed again, according to sponsors Visa and MasterCard.

The oft-delayed protocol for secure credit card payments over the Internet has been postponed again, according to Visa International and MasterCard.

The Secure Electronic Transaction protocol will now be finalized May 31, the companies said. In January, Visa and Mastercard set April 14 as the release date for SET, which the credit card companies had originally expected to be in place last fall.

Finalizing the new protocol will mean that the two companies--as well as American Express, which also backs SET--will finally endorse use of credit cards over the Net. Visa and Mastercard, the two largest charge card firms, now warn consumers not to use their accounts on the Internet for security reasons.

Issuing version 1 of SET could give consumer purchases on the Net a major boost. However, industry analysts warn that credit card sales may not take off as quickly as many Web retailers hope.

Among the potential obstacles cited by industry analysts:

  • The SET protocol requires both stores and shoppers to have a "digital ID" before they can complete a credit card transaction.

  • The general populace still perceives the Internet as an unsafe frontier, though such concerns are probably less prevalent among existing Net users.

  • Shopping on the Net can be confusing because there's no easy way for consumers, particularly newcomers, to find what they want.

  • Both merchants and consumers need special SET software that's not yet available. For stores, even IBM's next merchant server software won't support the final SET spec until midsummer at the earliest. Other software makers appear further behind.