If the prophets are right, tomorrow's Internet commerce will be dominated by a flood of payments under $10, or micropayments, as Netizens happily pay for documents, admission to multi-player games sites, and whatever else the fertile minds of entrepreneurs can imagine.

Jupiter Communications, for instance, a New York-based research firm, estimates that by the turn of the century such payments will account for 80 percent of a greatly expanded Internet transactions universe, compared with 15 percent in 1996. Applied to Boston-based Forrester Research estimates of on-line consumer retail payments in the United States for the same periods, this means that by 2000, micropayments could total about $5.7 billion, compared with an estimated $79.5 million in 1996.

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