First Virtual Holdings Inc. has sold its VirtualPin software for Internet payments to ESPN Internet Ventures, which produces one of the World Wide Web's most popular sites, ESPN SportsZone. ESPN has committed to buying up to 100,000 copies of VirtualPin. It plans to use the software to give SportsZone visitors a mechanism for buying Internet-based services, such as Fantasy Football '97. The deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, gives a timely boost to First Virtual. The San Diego-based company reported a net loss in the second quarter of $3.9 million, or 45 cents per share. These results, which came on revenues of $393,000, were 5 cents per share lower than Wall Street expectations. First Virtual executives said the ESPN deal is the second one of significance in recent months. In April it sold 350,000 copies of VirtualPin to First Data Corp. Michael Nemeroff, analyst at Lehman Brothers in New York, said First Virtual's ESPN deal comes at the expense of its competitor, Cybercash Inc. ESPN had been testing Cybercash's Internet payment technology. About 230,000 people use First Virtual's Internet payments technology. VirtualPin gives consumers a way to use credit cards for Internet purchases without actually sending card numbers with each transaction.

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