The electronic economy has moved sharply towards the home and small business market over the past few weeks, with major implications for Web trade.
BT, UUNet Pipex and AT&T have all signed up to be Commerce Service Providers (CSP), a new form of trading institution that takes care of electronic transactions on behalf of businesses.
Microsoft outlined its merchant server strategy, offering software designed to allow businesses to take care of transactions themselves. The company has also scooped a deal for Barclays to offer online home banking using the MS Money accounts program.
The CSP model uses software from Open Market which, says UK managing director Peter Stanley, can change a Web site from an advertisement to a fully-fledged online business in a matter of hours.
It supports credit card and other transactions to a current minimum of #5 - though of course, smaller transactions can be charged on account until they top the minimum. OM has signed a deal with Cybercash which should allow small-change transactions by next year.
OM has also formed a partnership with Logica, one of Britain's largest enterprise system builders, to sell the system thoughout Europe and Asia.
Customers are likely to include banks and other City institutions that risk being sidelined unless they adjust to the burgeoning electronic economy.
BT and Pipex both offer CSP services through their Web page business arms, respectively BT WebWorld and The Bureau.
Goodbye cash machines
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