Visa International has taken a significant step towards achieving its vision of u-commerce -- or Universal Commerce -- with the worlds first secure payment transaction using a Palm(TM) handheld computer.
The transaction was carried out by Palm, Inc. CEO Carl Yankowski during a keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Saturday. Palm and Visa have worked with terminal manufacturers Ingenico and VeriFone to enable the secure transfer of payment information from a Palm handheld to a VeriFone or Ingenico point-of-sale payment terminal using infrared technology.
With nine million Palm handhelds sold worldwide, the addition of the Visa payment function is a major step in providing consumers with yet another convenient and flexible way to pay for goods and services. The service is expected to be popular in those locations that cater specifically to people who are traveling or in a hurry, such as taxis, parking garages, and fast food restaurants.
The transaction involved Yankowski's purchase of products from a Sharper Image storefront on stage at CES. Using Palms infrared technology, the handheld beamed encrypted Visa payment card data to a terminal, which approved the transaction and then beamed back a receipt to be stored in the Palm handheld.
"Visa payment services and Palm technology are a great fit," said Visa International vice president Sue Gordon-Lathrop. "First, the Visa account number is embedded into the handheld. Its a simple matter because the Palm OS(R) platform is so elegant and easy to work with. Prior to initiating the payment, Carl entered his unique code to ensure secure access to the payment application, and then beamed the account information to the terminal."
The entire transaction took only seconds.
"It is entirely appropriate that the start of 2001 is marked by the first wireless transaction using a Palm handheld," said Gaylon Howe, executive vice president, Consumer Product Platforms, Visa International. "We expect to see significant developments in wireless technology over the next year that will fuel the growth of u-commerce -- the ability of buyers and sellers to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, over any type of device, simply and securely."
Visa has worked with Palm to ensure that the new payment method conforms to global payment standards and that security is a top priority. Both protocol and application level security will be present to prevent 'eavesdropping' as information is sent from the Palm handheld to the terminal. In addition, access controls prevent unauthorized access to payment information stored on the Palm handheld. Visa will continue to work with Palm to define additional security features to protect data as the product develops further.
"Palm is delighted to be working with Visa and other industry leaders on this breakthrough payment technology," Yankowski said. "This type of innovation will provide increasing levels of choice and convenience for consumers and merchants."
Added Howe: "This announcement is just one example of how we have been working with industry leaders to provide payment applications across new communication channels while ensuring payment security. Ultimately, we want to enable our member banks to take advantage of this new technology to provide new services and add value to existing products."
Visa is working on a number of fronts to realize the vision of u-commerce, including the continuing development of chip-based cards and payment tools, enhanced security for Web-based payments, and the acceleration of wireless or mobile commerce. Visa is also taking a leading role in key standards bodies such as the Infrared Financial Messaging Standard Body, Bluetooth Financial Study Group, the WAP Forum and the Mobey Forum.
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