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QPass Touts Universal Wallet for Online Transactions.

Paying for digital content online is a key market for QPass, CMGI's Cha! Technologies, Microsoft Passport, Novell DigitalMe and a handful of other authentication and digital wallet technologies, at least for now. As consumers become more willing to spend online and digital content including text (newspapers, reports, articles), audio (MP3) and graphics (games, collectibles) becomes available for a few dollars or even cents, the various technologies and formats are competing for merchants and users. Consolidation and integration will ultimately simplify the choices for consumers.

The widespread adoption of applications which conveniently and securely record and store personal information and credit card details, and which can also charge up online payment systems or wallets, will mean online shopping for goods and services other than digital content using will follow. It's a question of generating momentum; a chicken and egg situation for all of the players. At the very least they mean no more filling in of multiple online forms, QPass observes, citing industry research claimed to show that between 66% and 95% of all online purchases are abandoned midstream.

It claims the PowerWallet application it has developed in conjunction with HNC Software Inc's EHNC internet subsidiary can fill in any form on the internet, manages online receipts, keeps track of site specific user names, passwords and shopping preferences. For corporations the wallet is a no-brainer, argues marketing VP Cornelius Willis, because of the cost savings associated with logistics and maintenance when employees, suppliers and customers use PowerWallet rather than other transaction mechanisms.

Willis, formerly director of platform marketing at Microsoft, believes QPass has a clear lead in the market and that Microsoft's Passport wallet is more focused on consumer services while Novell is concerned primarily with privacy issues in its DigitalMe identity server. Moreover Novell requires the user to train DigitalMe to understand what information can be divulged to third parties, Cha! requires an executable to be downloaded, while the QPass system includes neural network technology, which enables to application to 'learn' from a users' behavior and activity. It will be interesting to see how the landscape changes now that Willis' former employer is stepping up licensing and marketing activities around Passport.

Willis agrees that CMGI bought Cha! primarily for its authentication technology, not the digital content opportunity, as it needs to have an answer Passport, DigitalMe and America Online systems. Technology still required for wallets according to Willis is the ability to identify fraudulent transactions from stolen credit card numbers before the transactions are executed in much the same way that a credit card company will occasionally call a customer to verify an unusual transaction.

QPass claims the capital investment it has raised values the company at around $70m, compared with the $12m CMGI paid for Cha! It says it is evaluating all financial strategies for the future of the business and claims there are now a "five figure" number of QPass users and 25 merchants which have installed its software.
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Author:Fellows, William
Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 14, 1999
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