Trintech Group has solidified its standing in the on-line payments market by announcing a cooperation agreement with Compaq Computer Corp.

Compaq, best known as the top seller of personal computers, has also become a major force in Internet transactions, in part through its acquisitions of Digital Equipment Corp. and Tandem Computers Inc. and their server and networking systems.

The Houston computer company this week designated Trintech as "the first cross-platform secure Internet payment software vendor to develop Compaq ActiveAnswers solutions."

The role is not exclusive, but being first gives Trintech a leg up in the ActiveAnswers catalogue of systems that operate consistently across Compaq offerings, notably ProLiant and AlphaServer.

Trintech programs are to be compatible with both Windows NT and Unix- based operating systems on Compaq computers.

"Combining Trintech's payment market leadership with Compaq's strong platform and architecture expertise ensures our customers a complete solution," with minimal "time to success," said Mark Linesch, Compaq's director of Internet and e-commerce solutions.

Trintech chief executive officer John McGuire said the alliance boosts his company's competitiveness with Hewlett-Packard Co., which made an Internet commerce play two years ago by acquiring Verifone Inc.; and with International Business Machines Corp., which made a digital wallet and other payment components integral parts of its e-business strategy.

It was also something of a coup for Trintech to beat out GlobeSet Inc., an Austin, Tex., company that also offers software for the MasterCard-Visa Secure Electronic Transaction protocol and that had developed a close relationship with Tandem Computers. Whereas Trintech had premerger dealings with Digital, Tandem had made an equity investment in GlobeSet.

Mr. McGuire, who co-founded Trintech in Ireland in 1986 and established a Silicon Valley base in 1997, said Compaq was attracted to Trintech's commitment to interoperability with competing vendors and its established banking industry connections. Trintech has worked on SET projects with Visa, which is an equity investor in the company.

Mr. McGuire said Compaq, like Trintech, is "fitting pieces of a jigsaw" as they formulate e-commerce strategies.

More of Compaq's vision emerged this week as CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer unveiled the "NonStop eBusiness" initiative. "Customers must adapt to a new paradigm of speed, global competitiveness, and e-commerce ... where your competition is just a click away," and Compaq wants to fill those needs affordably, Mr. Pfeiffer told a customer gathering.

"Both Compaq and Trintech are at the forefront of their respective markets, making the alliance a natural progression," Mr. McGuire said. With the available hardware and software, customers can "cut transaction costs and allocate more resources to their core competencies."

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