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Visa Launches Partner Program On Yahoo! Asia Shopping Guide

Banking on a growing e-commerce trend in Asia, Visa has officially launched a preferential treatment program for online retailers in conjunction with the Visa Shopping Guide by Yahoo! Asia.

"Visa sees that it can have a significant role in helping to develop the Internet market place in Asia," said Jeff Perlman, director of electronic commerce marketing & product sales for Visa International Asia Pacific.

Perlman added that a second objective of the program was "making sure that growth goes in a direction that builds a good environment--good business practices from merchants, sensible shopping from consumers, migration towards the highest level of security for payments available."

The preferential treatment for merchants will include a listing on the Shopping Guide on Yahoo! Asia and other promotional and marketing services.

According to Perlman, the Asian Shopping Guide is projected to have between 50,000 and 100,000 visitors per month in its first year. The guide will also be promoted on Yahoo!'s Chinese-language online property and will acknowledge Chinese-language merchants.

"This is an Asia-Pacific program. Our different regional strategies fall under the same general objectives and goals [of the global program] but the way we carry that strategy out is specific to the region," said Perlman.

Visa's program featured in the Shopping Guide is specifically targeting South East Asia and the Greater China area while the international credit card corporation will have different programs for Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Korea.

According to Perlman, the main difference between online merchants in Asia and in developed countries like the US is where they are on the evolutionary path.

The most significant barriers to Asian e-commerce are comfort level and trust for both merchants and consumers who need to feel comfortable and familiar with the new environment.

Visa is trying to raise Asia's confidence in e-commerce by utilizing the new Set Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) standard which requires authentication in online transactions.

"Emerging markets have a distinctive advantage where we can leap frog existing technology like SSL (Secure Socket Layers) and go strait to SET," said Perlman. "That doesn't mean we skip SSL because it is important that SSL be part of the mix in the short term or longer because the entire world has to be on the same protocol."

"SSL provides reasonably improved security over in-the-clear transactions and SET addresses important issues that SSL doesn't address--which is authentication."