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Netscape takes payments live on the Net

Targeting small firms looking to jump into Internet commerce, Netscape releases a software bundle that helps them build e-commerce applications.

Targeting small businesses looking to jump into Internet commerce, Netscape Communications (NSCP) today released a software bundle that allows companies to buy and sell goods and services from their Web sites.

The new bundle, called Netscape Payment Kit, includes Netscape's "cash register" server software for online credit card processing called LivePayment, the Enterprise Server Web server software, and Web authoring environment LiveWire Pro.

The bundle costs $3,490, a savings of about $100 compared to buying the pieces separately, but far cheaper than Netscape's $50,000-plus Merchant System, the company's high-end electronic commerce server software. Netscape Enterprise Server customers can upgrade to Payment Kit for $2,690.

In a related announcement, Netscape and credit card processor First Data, a longtime Netscape ally, announced a program to offer Payment Kit, an Internet payment processing, and technical consulting service to merchants.

"We are really leveraging in a big way First Data's channel, getting our products to their banks and their merchants as well," said Netscape's director of commercial applications Andres Espineira. "Both of us have targets of how many [merchants] we want to get online." He said the goal is "many, many hundreds."

LivePayment was also released today as a $1,995 separate product. Based on the payment processing technology in Merchant Server, the software protects electronic transactions with high-grade encryption technology from Netscape's commercial applications line and can receive payment information from a Web browser that supports Secure Socket Layer protocol.

Future versions of LivePayment are expected to also support the Secure Electronic Transactions protocol being backed by credit card giants Visa International, Mastercard International, and American Express.

The new Netscape offerings may compete with those of VeriFone, an occasional Netscape partner and occasional competitor. VeriFone's vPOS software, like LivePayment, serves as a Web cash register for merchants, but vPOS uses CGI scripts for credit card transactions, while Netscape uses JavaScript.