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Cyber-Comm Launches New Design for Online Payment System

The Cyber-Comm consortium has unveiled a solution for secure payment on e-commerce sites which relies on bank servers for part of its protection system.

The new payment system is expected to be released by February of next year.

The solution, based on the SET protocol, requires a smart card reader. By the time of the product's release, about 20,000 smart card readers should be available through the larger French banks -- many of which are the main shareholders of Cyber-Comm.

Cyber-Comm's solution identifies the customer through a 5 digit code, an unusual procees for online transactions. Cyber-Comm is actually composed of software installed on the hard disk and a Smart Card reader which is directly plugged into the user's PC.

Cyber-Comm's promoters say that their solution is very safe -- when a netsurfer types its secret code, the latter is sent via the merchant who is also equipped with the same software. The informations is sent to the server of the bank which authorizes or refuses the transaction. The card number is never kept on the server of the merchant site.

The novelty of Cyber-Comm is that its designers decided to put the banks at the heart of the system. Many companies have been involved in creating the Cyber-Comm system -- the software tools were developed by Lexem and Gemplus, while the card readers are manufactured by ActivCard, Ingenico and Covadis.

According to sources at Cyber-Comm, the price of a reader should not exceed $60, with an expected cost between $30 and $50 depending on the manufacturer. No details were released regarding distribution of the solution.

Main host services such as Télécommerce, Atos and Experian are expected to be the first to sell the system. The cost of subscription to the service has not been given yet.

"We have developed that system but we do not intend to commercialize it ourselves. The commercialization rules should be layed down in the weeks to come," said Cyber-Comm CEO Hervé Sitruk. Sitruk added that the company will soon have international partners for the system.

Cyber-Comm aims to create an affiliation network of 200 and 400 French merchant sites by the end of next year. A gateway has already been developed in order to make the solution compatible with the international merchant sites which use the SET protocol.



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