On-line credit card checking is a step closer to reality with a system worked out between Internet Publishing Ltd and an arm of one of the UK clearing banks. London-based Internet Publishing Ltd has used a piece of software from the merchant services arm of its banking partner – which Internet Publishing has chosen not […]
On-line credit card checking is a step closer to reality with a system worked out between Internet Publishing Ltd and an arm of one of the UK clearing banks. London-based Internet Publishing Ltd has used a piece of software from the merchant services arm of its banking partner – which Internet Publishing has chosen not to name – to crack on-line credit-card verification on the World Wide Web. Checking credit cards in real time has proved a thorny problem for Internet commerce, with banks understandably nervous about letting their credit card systems get anywhere near the Internet. The company has allayed its partner’s fears, for now at least, by isolating the credit card checking code on a separate machine. The Web front-end is built on Netscape Communicatio n Corp’s Netsite Commerce Server running on a Sun Microsystems Inc Sparcstation. Pages that require credit card numbers are protected by Netscape’s proprietary RSA-based encryption technology. Alongside that sits a personal computer, running Windows and a software package that dials the bank over a modem link, submits the credit card and transaction, receiving either a pass or fail message. The company’s main contribution has been to build an extra interface that enables the Web server and credit-checking machine to pass credit transaction details and replies directly via their serial ports. The company is at pains to point out that the machine is not attached to any network and credit card numbers are not stored anywhere on the Unix box. The bank is being reticent about the system: its technical department acknowledged that this is the first of its kind for a UK bank, and any similar systems will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Computergram on the Web
The bank is still in quite a conservative mode when it comes to trading over the Internet, says Internet Publishing’s managing director, Eamonn Wilmott, they are looking at us closely, he added. The bank’s press office was unaware that the bank was co-operating with Internet Publishing on credit-card-over-the-Web projects at all. The system was initially designed to support the company’s World Software Library, which is due to go live later this month. This will enable users to try, buy and then download software over the Web. A more novel project will put Computergram on the Web site. Users will be able to search the database for news stories by keyword and be returned a list of headlines along with story lengths. Individual stories then cost 50 cents a piece with a minimum charge of $10 for 20 stories, but there’s no time limit on usage. Billing will be in dollars and converted to local currency by the credit card company. As such, the system will bring pay-per-view text publishing to the World Wide Web for the first time. One problem is how to deal with differing international and inter-State sales tax legislation. We are clearly responsible for taxes, says Wilmott, who explains that it will be up to the customer to add the appropriate local levies to their bill. We are still working out the fine print, he added. Internet Publishing Ltd is an associate company of APT Data Group Plc.