Internet software and services provider ice.com launched an Internet payment system on Wednesday, claiming it to be the only one able to handle both small and large payments.
Called VPS, the encrypted payment system will not require any special hardware or software and can handle dollars or pounds. Based on a third party system, ice.com take the role of an agent, ensuring authenticity and confidentiality for all transactions.
There is a two-part charge: a one-off payment of #400 to hook up a standard system and an additional fee per transaction. Account details are only given - by fax or online - when opening the account.
The venture has Microsoft backing and early clients include the online information provider Dialog.
Ice.com said the system will be as safe and easy to use as traditional credit card. Account details are given once only - by fax or online form. A record of purchases can be viewed online.
Candida Slater, ice.com?s chief executive, said: ?Micro payments offer us the biggest gap in the market. Lots of companies who produce information for free are waiting for an effective way to charge users. We believe that the quality of on-line information will increase with VPS.?
She said ice.com will target four main markets - financial, retail, information, and entertainment (particularly online game playing).
According to Carsten Hejndorf, an Internet analyst at IDC, VPS could be a breakthrough product: ?The system has the advantage of not needing any extra software,? he said. ?People don?t want the hassle of downloading. Plus if it really can handle small and large payments it has the edge over Digital?s Millicent which only deals in small payments."
However, he warned that ?the European Internet market still doesn?t not have enough worth buying at a lower price than in normal shops.?
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