Tandem Computers Inc. joined with its parent, Compaq Computer Corp., in the official release Monday of Internet commerce software that complies with the credit card associations' Secure Electronic Transactions version 1.0.

The product, called iTP Payment Solution, is available for Compaq and other Microsoft Windows NT-based server systems. Implementation on Tandem's NonStop Himalaya servers is targeted for midyear.

Tandem is trying to make a splash in Internet payments, where International Business Machines Corp. and the Hewlett-Packard Co./Verifone combination are already prominent.

Blane Erwin, research director of Forrester Research, said Compaq is making a credible entry, with a message that "secure payment needs to be part of what companies and Internet service providers provide."

He said it still remains to be seen if SET becomes a dominant standard.

Tandem hopes to build on its legacy in electronic funds transfer systems, with a new twist.

"In the past we were known as a proprietary, closed, and expensive system," said Norman Goldberg, vice president of finance services industry marketing at Tandem. "Now we are open and price-competitive. Our goal is to get this new message across."

Sixty-one of the world's 75 largest banks and 35 of the largest telecommunications companies have Tandem systems. The company gets 80% of its revenue from these two sectors.

The iTP Payment Solution aims to satisfy the needs of buyers, sellers, and financial institutions in Internet commerce.

The software modules include the iTP Payment CA (Certification Authority), iTP Payment Gateway for financial institutions, iTP PayServer, iTP Virtual Store for sellers, and an iTP Wallet plug-in for buyers' Web browsers.

"By mid-1998, we'll see more sites and more volume driven by consumers wanting more payment options and secure capability," said Mr. Goldberg.

The software integrates with other Tandem iTP offerings, including the recently released iTP Web Server 3.0 and iTP Search Engine.

Connie Blemings, Tandem's program manager for Internet commerce, said the iTP Virtual Store lets banks act as a distribution agent for merchants and host Web sites for them.

Tandem's iTP Payment Solution also integrates with PayMaster, a product of its Atalla unit, which provides hardware cryptographic systems.

Customers already using iTP Payment Solution and iTP Virtual Store include Visa Card Services in the Netherlands, Lockheed Martin, SNS Systems Inc. in Canada, Oki Electric Co., Telekurs in Switzerland, and BBS in Norway.

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