January 31, 2001, 11:24 AM

Credit card companies fight the battle for shoppers' online wallet share

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Unlike other single use card numbers offered by AmEx and MBNA, which can be used only once, Discover has added the flexibility to allow its single use card number to be accepted by the same merchant for recurring payments or to pay for items on back order. Orbiscom Inc. supplies the technology.

“This can help merchants attract new customers to online shopping who previously were not comfortable giving their account number online,” says Colleen Zambole, vice president of e-commerce for Discover.

The ability of card issuers to deliver consumers who have never shopped online is critical for Internet retailers, especially those just establishing their brand. “We may not have as large a cardholder base as the leading issuers, but our cardholders are more active online shoppers,” says NextCard’s Subramanian. “We have been able get better deals for our cardholders from some merchants because of this. Plastic is the currency of the web, so people will pay attention to the offers that come to them through their card issuers’ site.”

And that can mean a lot of new business for Internet retailers.

Peter Lucas is a Chicago-based free lance writer

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