Visa, MasterCard close in on common specification for Web commerce

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 4 Jan 96 18:22:24 -0500

By Nick Wingfield

Posted at 11:13 AM PT, Jan 4, 1996

Visa USA Inc. and MasterCard International Inc. will attempt to avert a war
between their competing electronic commerce standards by releasing a common
specification for Internet transactions.

The specification for Internet credit card transactions is expected to
combine elements of Secure Transaction Technology, developed by Visa and
Microsoft Corp., and Secure Electronic Payment Protocol, developed by IBM, GTE
Corp., Netscape Communications Corp., and CyberCash.

"We're optimistic we'll have a common standard in the near term," said a Visa

Although experts applauded the detente between Visa and MasterCard, they said
a common specification may not be enough to kick-start electronic commerce.

"Certainly this is important. [But] the big stumbling block is finding people
willing to shop on-line," said Vic Wheatman, an analyst at Gartner Group
Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif. "If users can't get a good price [on products],
[Internet merchants] are competing against the instant gratification of going
down to the store and buying something."

Meanwhile, Toshiba Corp. announced it is teaming up with Visa on an Internet
commerce trial that will enable Internet shoppers to make purchases with smart
cards. The trial, slated to begin in 1996 in Japan, will be among the initial
implementations of the common specification, Visa officials said.

Rob Guth of the IDG News Service contributed to this article, which appears
in the Dec. 25/Jan. 1 issue of InfoWorld.