Lukewarm market reaction to Microsoft's electronic commerce product, Merchant Server (MMS), may heat up in the UK now it has the support of Natwest Bank and the leading Internet service provider, UUnet Pipex.
Microsoft and Pipex have signed a deal to integrate MMS with Pipex' Bureau Internet commerce application. From the start of next year, Bureau will handle settlement and credit card authorisation for MMS, while Natwest Bank will act as the clearing house for online debit and credit card transactions.
Microsoft believes the deal offers vendors the opportunity to host their electronic stores on MMS without having to worry about technology issues such as setting up high speed Internet connections or planning for growth. All this will be taken care of by Pipex, while Natwest offers the clearing house capabilities.
"UUnet Pipex allows merchants to concentrate on merchandising their stores hosted on Merchant Server," said Simon Brown, head of ecommerce at Microsoft UK. "We believe there is a great demand for an electronic commerce solution that combines the functionality of Merchant Server with an off-site hosting environment, the performance of a leading ISP and the support of a major high street bank.
Richard Nuttall, director of electronic commerce at Pipex, said the two applications were complementary in the realm of Internet trading, because Pipex' Bureau offering is strongest in handling subscriptions and soft goods such as software, while MMS' forte is in managing complex purchases of hard goods such as wine or computers.
Nuttall added: "This announcement means that we can now handle authorisation and settlement for purchases over the Internet from the two market leading applications."
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