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France Telecom Starts Wireless E-Commerce Trial

France Telecom launched a trial version of "Iti Achat," a secure mobile e-commerce service that enables customers of its Itineris GSM service to make purchases from their mobile phones or via the Internet.

Transaction security is guaranteed thanks to a special smart bank card reader integrated in the handset, the company said. The technical application complies with the specifications defined by Groupement Cartes Bancaires CB, an interbank consortium responsible for "CB" bank cards in France.

The solution uses a Motorola StarTAC-D handset, the SIMphonIC SIM Toolkit solution from De La Rue Card Systems and a Carte Bancaires CB smart bank card (equipped with a microprocessor).

The project's first two partner banks -- Credit Commercial de France and Credit Mutuel -- are joined by five vendors: Alapage.com (CDs, books, videos, concert and theater tickets, etc.), Aquarelle (flowers for all occasions), ChateauOnline (wines from around the world), Marcopoly (household appliances, TVs, stereo equipment, etc.) and Web Shopping France (scale model boats).

Itineris customers contact the merchant (by phone, Minitel or Internet) and place an order. The merchant sends back a GSM short message with the price that is displayed on the screen of the Motorola StarTAC-D handset. The customer then inserts the CB bank card into the handset and enters the password. Transaction data is transmitted to one of the two partner banks, Credit Commercial de France or Credit Mutuel.

The service should be ready for full-scale commercial launch in about six months, following a second trial phase to begin on Sept. 20, France Telecom said.

Several more banking partners will join the program for the second trial (including BNP, Caisse d'Epargne, Credit Lyonnais and Societe Generale), along with 20 more merchants.



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