CyberCash, Inc., based in Reston, VA, has established a beachhead in Japan, forming a joint venture called CyberCash K.K. with a group of Japanese banks and corporations, including Softbank Corp., a Japanese publisher that owns several familiar American ventures,including the Comdex computer show.

The CyberCash venture in Japan is structurally similar to its entry into Europe, says Bruce Wilson, the company's evp of global strategy; a strategic alliance with big local companies, followed by plenty of selling.

Prominent in its plans: marketing its CyberCoin micropayments system over the Internet, a natural fit with Softbank's hopes to sell information- related goods over the Internet.

CyberCash currently has a 45 percent stake in the venture, he says, with the balance held by nine big Japanese banks, including Sumitomo, Fuji, and Tokyo- Mitsubishi banks. Other Japanese investors are expected to come in later, bringing CyberCash's end to 40 percent. "We really want this to be a native Japanese company, just as our German company is mainly owned by German companies," says Wilson. In Germany, CyberCash is working with Dresdner Bank and Sachsen LB in hopes of reaching both commercial and savings bank customers.

The company partners with the banks, he says, "to give them a real stake in the success of the venture;" not a bad idea, since a payments system not used by banks is no payments system at all.

CyberCash, which has seen its stock move wildly in the year since its initial public offering-moving between 10 and 40 1/2 before settling in at about 19-probably wouldn't mind seeing the cash generated by selling so much of the venture at the front end and generating cash flow later. Wilson declined to comment, saying only that CyberCash's deals differ from country to country.

CyberCash announced its Japanese deal in September, a few months after arch-rival DigiCash announced a deal with Nomura Research Institute to license its e-cash system-including a micropayments application-in Japan. In Germany, DigiCash's partner is Deutsche Bank.

-reinbach tfn.com

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