SAN FRANCISCO - Visa International said Tuesday that its board of directors had approved commercial incentives to promote the worldwide rollout of the company's e-commerce program, Visa Authenticated Payment.

The program, which lets card issuers authenticate cardholders online, will now supply to participating e-merchants protections and guarantees that were previously only available in the physical world, Visa said.

For example, under the program, the cardholder's bank will prevalidate the customer and approve the transaction so that e-merchants can be certain the goods they sell will be paid for.

Visa said the new protections will significantly reduce fraud and customer disputes and give consumers more confidence about shopping online. This will lead to increased sales volume for e-merchants, the company said.

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