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Excite@Home, Billpoint ink deal

The Web portal teams up with a third-party billing service to allow its auctions and classifieds customers to pay for items by credit card over the Net.

Excite@Home announced today that it has teamed up with Billpoint to allow Excite's auctions and classifieds customers to pay for items by credit card over the Net.

Excite's Web site will be one of the first to enable person-to-person credit card transactions for auctions and classifieds customers. The service, optional for sellers and buyers, will be available on items in the computer, general merchandise, and collectibles areas of both areas.

Michele Cesped, product manager of Excite's auctions and classifieds, said the site has made Billpoint's service available in its most popular product categories, and plans to expand the offer in the future. Cesped said Excite offered the service to add convenience for the many private parties that are unable to accept credit cards on their own. Both companies have entered into a revenue-sharing arrangement, Cesped added.

Auctions and classifieds customers typically have to work out payment arrangements directly with sellers rather than with the site. Payments are then made offline, sometimes with a credit card, but also via checks or money orders.

Billpoint's service allows buyers to purchase their items on the Net using a credit card, in the same way that they would pay for a book at or other e-commerce sites. Billpoint confirms the buyers' credit worthiness for sellers before they ship purchased products.

Online auction leader eBay announced last month that it was acquiring Billpoint. However, eBay has yet to incorporate Billpoint's service into its site. Neither Yahoo's nor Amazon's auctions offer a similar service.

In the United States, most online transactions are conducted using a credit card, said International Data Corporation analyst Jill Frankle. Enabling credit card transactions to take place on auction and classified sites is "a no-brainer," she said, adding that other sites will eventually offer the service.

According to Cesped, Excite has some 305,000 classified ads. Its auction site, which launched last June, has some 20,000 listings.

Excite, like portal competitor Yahoo, does not charge listing or transaction fees for its classified or auction services. However, sellers will pay a fee to Billpoint for using its services. The fee will be a percentage of the transaction value.