A More Secure Future For Cybershoppers?

MANY HOPE ELECTRONIC commerce will bloom on the Internet. But first, people have to feel more comfortable moving payments through its infamously insecure circuits. That's why companies are cooking up so-called secure-transaction schemes. The latest is from a group called Electronic Business Co-op. Members are Tandem Computers, a minicomputer maker; Spyglass, a provider of the Mosaic Web-browser program; Checkfree, a payment-processing company; and V-One, a maker of firewall programs and smart cards.

The Co-op hopes that by releasing its system this spring, it will beat rivals such as Microsoft and Visa, which are jointly developing a secure method for processing credit-card payments over the Net. Co-op members also say their system has advantages over other schemes. For one, it confirms the identities of both user and host computer, to reduce fraud. And unlike some systems, it won't require special accounts or prearranged relationships with merchants to make purchases over the Net. Look for the new payment scheme at an electronic mall this spring.

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