Tech Industry

E-commerce firm opens wallet

Net commerce software vendor GlobeSet announces a server-based "wallet" for making credit card purchases securely over the Internet.

In a move that could speed adoption of an online payments protocol, Internet commerce software vendor GlobeSet has announced a server-based "wallet" for making credit card purchases securely over the Internet.

Compliant with the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) protocol, GlobeSet's "thin" ServerWallet would be easier for consumers to use and cheaper for their banks or card issuers to support.

"This gets rid of the major infrastructural barrier," said GlobeSet chief executive Michael Cation. "You can sum it up in one word: deployment. This addresses the deployment issue for the buyer."

Putting the wallet on a card issuer's server also gets around a major implementation problem for SET--distributing wallet software and digital certificates to every buyer. Hosting a SET wallet at a bank's Web site eliminates the step of downloading complete wallet software to every cardholder, and the user's digital certificate is stored on the server as well.

With ServerWallet, individuals only download a 50-kilobyte file, not the average 4 megabytes for a complete wallet. GlobeSet figures the download will take 12 seconds at common connection speeds, instead of the 19 minutes required for a full wallet.

"A bank can set wallets up ahead of time for every card account they have," GlobeSet vice president Dennis Jolly said. In addition to easing deployment, maintaining SET wallets for individuals on a server will reduce customer support headaches.

"We have done proposals for major banks, and in the first two or three years, SET support is going to cost them tens of millions of dollars a year in support costs," Jolly added. Server-based wallets also will be easier to update as the specification evolves, and upgrades can be done without involving each buyer.

ServerWallet resides on a server at the card issuer's or financial institution's operation center, and it can update the software seamlessly for users.

"The first generation of SET was focused on solving the security problem," Cation said. "It does that very, very well. This is going to be what makes SET take off--you've nailed the security issues and then the deployment issue, then it takes off."

The first installation of ServerWallet, at an unnamed bank, will begin next month. GlobeSet, which sells through resellers to banks and other accounts, is training its channel partners this month and expects more installation by the end of the summer.

GlobeSet has been involved in SET trials with NationsBank, Wal-Mart, and several European card organizations. The company offers a full line of SET-based software for buyers, merchants, banks, and certificate authorities.

Cation said the idea of a server-based wallet was initiated by banks and card issuers. GlobeSet is funded by investors including BankersTrust and Compaq Computers' Tandem division, with new investors including financial institutions to be announced shortly.