Your Passport to E-Commerce?

Moving to fortify its .NET single-ID application with enhanced e-commerce
functionality, Microsoft is teaming up with Arcot Systems
to integrate Arcot’s TransFort payment authentication platform into the
Passport system.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Arcot is the supplier of online
authentication systems for Verified by Visa and MasterCard Secure Payment

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said that credit-card issuers (banks)
that support online authentication would be able to let their customers
“seamlessly link their personal .NET Passport account with the secure online
card authentication of TransFort.”

For Microsoft, the move means that it doesn’t have to sign Passport deals
with each individual card-issuing bank, such as the one it
signed in March
with Citigroup.

Microsoft put out a
last September for the creation of a “federated” authentication
system that would allow Passport to interoperate with enterprises, network
and other service operators to provide users with a single, universal secure
online identity to represent them across the Internet — from signing in to
corporate networks to shopping at e-commerce sites.

TransFort currently supports multiple means of authentication, including user
name-password, physical smart cards and the ArcotID Software Smart Card.

Microsoft said that after the technology is integrated, credit card users
will be able to log on, shop and authenticate online purchases using their
Passport sign-in and interface.

“Allowing sites and services that have deployed Arcot’s TransFort solution to
accept .NET Passport-issued credentials enables Web sites to break down the
barriers to e-commerce, making the shopping experience both secure and
convenient for consumers,” said Brian Arbogast, vice president of .NET Core
Services Platform at Microsoft.

Arcot said its TransFort strongly authenticates and digitally signs online
transactions in real time, and is scaleable to hundreds of millions of
transactions. Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Microsoft, of course, has taken it on the chin for perceived
privacy flaws
in Passport, which was launched in 1999. And its upcoming
Palladium computer-security initiative also has critics

Jupiter Research analyst Rob Leathern told that privacy concerns will continue to swirl around Passport.

“There’s been talk of integrating Passport as an option to Verified By Visa for some time,” said Leathern. “Privacy of user information is always going to be a concern where Passport is involved — but this is the direction we’re moving in, for better or worse. In terms of Verified By Visa, we’re positive on it, although it still has a long way to go to gain traction in the consumer marketplace.”

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