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Visa, MasterCard to Standardize Online Security

MasterCard International officials have decided they'd rather switch than fight. The credit card company has chosen to adopt the online security standard being developed by rival Visa International and Microsoft Corporation.

The transaction security software will be offered by Netscape Communications Corporation as part of its Web browser. Microsoft also plans to bundle a version of the software in Windows 95, due out August 24.

By settling on one standard, the credit card duo is likely to drive out smaller companies that have jumped into the Net transaction business, analysts say. To put further pressure on rivals, MasterCard plans to forbid use of its cards for online transactions not protected with the new software.

To use the new software, online shoppers will register an existing credit card with accompanying identifying info. The bank that issued the card will then provide the customer with an individual code for making online purchases. Once this is done, shoppers can simply push a button to buy goods online.

According to industry analysts, the system will likely be free to consumers.