January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Pilot Tests Use Of ATM Cards For Online Shopping

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Electronic payments solutions provider AmeriNet Inc. is participating in a pilot to test the use of ATM cards for consumer Internet purchases. Promising "robust" security, AmeriNet says the program will provide consumers with a low-cost and convenient payment option for purchasing goods and services online.
     The program is being developed by the Internet Council of NACHA-The Electronic Payments Association. Other participants include Citigroup, Star Systems Inc., Internet Revenue Network, PULSE, eFunds Corp. and the Georgia State University eCommerce Institute.
     "Approximately 40% of U.S. adults do not have credit cards," says David Kerlin, president of AmeriNet, Portland, Ore., "but ATM cards and checking accounts are nearly ubiquitous." With 80% of consumers holding ATM cards, he says, the new program increases the potential universe of online customers and enhances the value of those cards for both consumers and the issuing banks.
     NACHA invited AmeriNet and other financial services firms to participate in this pilot for conducting ATM-enabled web transactions. The program will establish business practices and operational rules to allow disparate ATM networks to communicate and provide immediate verification of a consumer's funds, says AmeriNet, adding that the program will use advanced security methods, including digital certificates for authentication.
     A technical test will be conducted in fourth-quarter 1999 to demonstrate the feasibility of a consumer digitally signing a merchant's form and transporting that digital signature through third-party processors and ATM networks to financial institutions, AmeriNet says, and a full-scale pilot with real transactions is scheduled for second-quarter 2000.
     AmeriNet's debit-it! service, an electronic checking account debit system that allows online merchants to offer customers a choice of payment methods, will interface with the ATM networks to provide the backend technology for the program, AmeriNet says.

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