Big Blue to open the till

IBM will unveil a payment server in September that allows Web merchants to accept a variety of forms of payment for electonic commerce transactions.

IBM's (IBM) Internet division expects to announce September 9 that it's bringing out a payment server that will allow Web merchants to accept a variety of forms of payment at their Internet storefronts, IBM officials disclosed this week.

Called eTill, the payment server will work by accepting cartridges or server plug-ins for different methods of payment. At introduction, there will be a cartridge for SET 1.0, which covers credit card payments under the Secure Electronic Transactions protocol. Future cartridges will cover electronic checking and electronic cash from different vendors.

In addition, payment processors--the financial institutions that handle credit card transactions for merchants--can create cartridges that will route charges directly from their merchants to that bank.

eTill is designed to work with any of the Web servers in general use, said IBM's Scott Dueweke, the marketing manager on Big Blue's SET initiatives. In addition, eTill will work with any vendor's payment gateway, the software banks use to accept transactions from their Web merchants.

IBM's payment server will compete with similar "cash register" offerings from VeriFone, now a subsidiary of IBM rival Hewlett-Packard (HWP), and CyberCash (CYCH). BlueMoney has announced a payment server, but only for its own merchant server software.

IBM is actively promoting the SET protocol, created by credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, with banks around the globe. It claims that 70 percent of the SET pilots in the world--only five of which are taking place in the United States--use some IBM software.