With all the hype surrounding Internet commerce, weeding the realistic and probable from the overblown and foolish can be a daunting task. Indeed, forecasts of banks' future roles in on-line commerce run the gamut, from providing on-line versions of core competency services to selling their own versions of merchant software to hosting merchant Web sites via acquired Internet service providers (ISPs). And as interest in electronic commerce grows, revenue possibilities mount.

At the most basic level, banks that want to stick closely to their core competencies can tap an existing number of options to accept credit card purchases and provide on-line merchants with transaction processing, including VeriFone's vPOS (virtual point-of-sale) and vGATE (financial institution virtual gateway) software for accepting transactions.

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