Verifone Inc. said a compact appliance it developed, the PayPort, is ready for linking consumers to financial and other services over the Internet via personal computers.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company said Chia Hsin, a Taiwanese marketer of its payment systems, will be the first to deploy PayPort within the Verismart framework to ensure on-line security and authentication with smart cards.
Like another Verifone device, the Personal ATM, PayPort is a palm-size, "thin client" card reader and keypad. Personal ATM, currently being tested by Citibank in the New York City smart card trial, hooks into telephone lines for loading cash value on the cards.
PayPort plugs into a personal computer. Through it the smart card can be combined not only with electronic purse functions but also on-line payments, banking, and stock trading.
"These are just some of the applications that Chia Hsin is developing for its Verismart-based smart card solutions," said Thomas Kilcoyne, vice president and general manager of the Verifone consumer systems division.
Personal ATM and PayPort are Verifone's entries in the drive to integrate smart cards with PCs, which many technologists see as a key to electronic commerce. Verifone's parent, Hewlett-Packard Co., helped form the PC/SC Workgroup, which promotes standards in this area, and Verifone focuses on its underlying Verismart architecture.
"The device means little by itself," said Larry Graves of Verifone's consumer systems division. "We are less a device company and more an architecture and solution provider."
Verismart "lets telecommunications companies, banks, or other smart card service providers deliver a wide range of applications using the most effective delivery methods," Mr. Kilcoyne said. "With the surge in the number of consumers connected to the Internet ... the PayPort provides a simple, inexpensive means to smart-card-enable PCs."
Mr. Graves said the combination of multiple applications and enhanced card security can help sell Internet commerce to the many consumers who view it as a "scary idea."
Michael Gilman, a Verifone Asia-Pacific official, said Chia Hsin is just beginning to roll out Verismart and PayPort and expects bank customers to have it fully operational by summer. He said telephone companies are also keen on distributing the technology because "they have delivery channels and sell multiple appliances."