Wells balances standard

Wells Fargo is the first bank to use the Secure Electronic Transactions protocol in Internet credit card transactions.

CNET News staff
Wells Fargo Bank is processing Internet credit card transactions from merchants under the proposed Secure Electronic Transactions protocol, apparently the first bank to do business using the emerging standard.

A handful of Wells Fargo's 600-plus Internet merchants are the first to use vPOS merchant software from VeriFone, a product Wells is selling under its own brand. vPOS accepts card payments from customers and routes them to the bank.

The software processes bank card transactions immediately over the Net and gives merchants administrative and financial programs to manage their online business. It incorporates both Secure Sockets Layer encryption and the Secure Electronic Transactions specification proposed by MasterCard and Visa.

The move is an incremental but significant step toward secure transactions over the Internet. A new certificate compliant with the secure protocol, being issued by GTE's CyberTrust unit for Wells, verifies the identity of the bank and merchant but does not affect a buyer's communication.

"This marks a milestone for online shopping and online security," said analyst Karen Epper of Forrester Research. "It's the first step toward the next level of security that validates the identity of the merchant and will hopefully negate fraud."