Secure trading on the Internet could take up to four years to become reality, Visa has admitted to PC Week. In an effort to speed up the process, Visa and MasterCard last week partnered with American Express and a Japanese credit card issuer, JCB, to form SETco, a new organisation that aims to make the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) security specification a standard. However, overnight success is unlikely. "It will probably take up to four years (to catch on)," admitted Saj Arshad, Visa's head of electronic commerce. Four years may be too long for some companies, and Graham Taylor, senior VP at IT research company Inteco, reckons even four years is optimistic. "People are getting used to using the Internet, but they're happy to use SSL (Secure Socket Layer) only when they're dealing with large, reputable companies," he argued. "It will be years more before people trust the small guys (on the Internet) and there's no guarantee SETco will be successful in making SET a standard." Taylor added: "I think SET's biggest problem is that ordinary people don't know and don't want to know what SET is." To boost the new organisation, Visa announced the addition of seven new partners to its European VSEC Group Pilot, which began in May, including banks from Italy, Germany, Greece and Switzerland. The pilot, to test SET in Europe, finishes in autumn 1998 and is being assisted by Microsoft, IBM, Netscape, and VeriSign. Arshad remained confident, however, and believed SET will be a standard by next year. "It's as safe and secure as trading with someone face-to-face," he said.
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