Fuji Bank Ltd., the Tokyo-based multinational public bank, expects to greatly expand its customers' ability to make Internet purchases by testing debit card transactions using the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) protocol developedby MasterCard, Visa, Microsoft and other technology companies.

The SET protocol was developed for credit card purchases on the Internet; Fuji has taken it further by using it for debit transactions. The pilot project will give thousands of debit cardholders access to "virtual stores" on the Internet via a Fuji electronic settlement gateway on the World Wide Web.

Meanwhile, Japan's NTT Group, which is opening its own Internet shopping center, has joined Fuji in the test, with Takashimaya, Konica and direct marketer Misumi among the Japanese retailers with a presence in the NTT shopping center. Store customers will use their computers to place orders and make payments using Fuji's payment system. Fuji will extend the pilot program later this year to reach 100,000 bank customers in Japan and elsewhere.

SET, a standard documentation for Internet transactions, was produced to open the Internet to all vendors wanting to sell products by extending credit card security and control procedures to cyberspace. Fuji works with IBM Corp.'s CommercePoint merchant server system for handling Internet transactions.

Fuji's Internet project comes on the heels of its decision to become the first Japanese bank to begin issuing Cirrus-brand ATM cards, giving Japanese cardholders access to more than 315,000 ATMs worldwide on the MasterCard/Cirrus ATM network.

Although the Fuji pilot program is so far the largest effort to date testing Internet debit card sales, it is not the first. The first end-to- end live, cross-border Internet transaction occurred in Denmark late last year.

-peterson tfn.com

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