While MasterCard and Visa share top billing in Internet payment security standards, their rival American Express Co. is angling for at least part of the limelight.

In keeping with its strong No. 3 position in the credit and charge card business, and given the widely held belief that competitors must cooperate on technical matters if Internet commerce is to take off, American Express in recent weeks has laid claim to equal partnership in the campaign to promote virtual payment systems.

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