smaller banks and merchants with its system to provide secure credit card transactions over the Internet. The Reston, Va.-based company has signed a deal with American Heritage BankCard, the nation's 14th-largest merchant processor, to provide encryption technology to American Heritage's 100 member banks and their clients. Word of the deal follows news that several U.S. banks, including U.S. Bancorp and Mellon Bank Corp., are planning to work with Cybercash in securing on-line payments for their merchants. Cybercash has indicated that it will make electronic cash services available by Dec. 31. Founded only 15 months ago, Cybercash has already established itself as a key player in the electronic commerce industry. In a statement, Bill Melton, Cybercash's president and chief executive officer, said that American Heritage's participation "will accelerate the growth and acceptance of electronic commerce over the Internet." Nick Ferrante, president of California-based American Heritage, noted that "a number of our bank clients have asked us from time to time about helping them market products on the Internet." American Heritage Bankcard, a subsidiary of Ferrante Financial Services Inc., provides credit card processing services for more than 100 banks and 20,000 merchants. The company registers about $2 billion in annual sales volume. Mr. Ferrante said that his clients fall into two categories: huge corporations that rely heavily on computers, many of which even have home pages on the World Wide Web, and smaller companies that currently do not use the Internet and feel this may soon put them at a disadvantage. "Many of our client banks are eager to begin offering secure payment services over the Internet," said Mr. Ferrante. To call up the service while on the Internet, consumers can select the Cybercash "pay" button, which will be present at all on-line participating merchants, and can then purchase goods, services, and information. "Cybercash has been extremely aggressive in pushing its payment systems. It is definitely the leader in that sector right now," said Adam Schoenfeld, a consultant with New York City-based Jupiter Communications Inc. In July, Cybercash joined with Checkfree Corp., the Columbus, Ohio-based automated bill processor, in securing computer transactions. "There's still a gaping hole on the Web for end-to-end payments," Mr. Schoenfeld said. "Consumer anxiety is still high. Cybercash is making a bid to fulfill that role. They are the first to the market with an actual end- to-end payment system that works."
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