service designed to ease the process of filling in order and payment forms for Internet shopping.
From now on, each NextCard Visa account will come with a "Concierge" programmed with information -- card number, name, address, and so forth -- that a customer must give when making on-line purchases. The personal information is stored on a customer's desktop computer rather than in a remote server, a configuration that is supposed to assuage security fears and reduce the tedium of handing over shipping and credit card information.
NextCard, which accepts credit card applications only through the Web, is using technology from Gator.com Corp., a San Mateo, Calif., company founded last year. People can visit its Web site, download Gator software, and fill in the data they would like to use on shopping forms.
The companies say the Gator product and the NextCard-branded version of it are more helpful than most electronic wallets, which must be summoned by the shopper at the virtual point of sale.
"You don't reach for Gator -- Gator watches on your behalf and sees if you hit a form," said Scott Eagle, vice president of marketing at Gator.com. "Silent and polite, it surfaces to say, 'Hey, I can log you in.' "
In keeping with a growing trend in digital wallet technology, on-line merchants do not have to modify their sites for the software to work, Mr. Eagle said. Gator and NextCard Concierge recognize 7,000 sites, he said. At others, the consumer can activate the software so it fills in what it knows.
"We actually call ourselves a smart on-line companion, because a wallet is very passive," Mr. Eagle said. "The nearest competitor in this space works at 500 sites with no ability to do drag-drop."
(Such claims seem to be disputed almost by the day. Globeset Inc. of Austin, Tex., last week introduced BankTone Wallet, which a "universal order form" and compatibility with 1,000 merchants.)
NextCard, which says its cardholders spend more than five times as much money on-line as average credit card customers, calls the Concierge "NextCard's platform on the customer's desktop." People whose accounts predate the product launching can download it from the NextCard site.
"We looked at almost all the wallet technologies out there and thought Gator was the best because of the proactive nature," said Shripriya Mahesh, director of e-commerce at NextCard. "It actually appears and prompts you for use, rather than you having to call it up, and it appears on more sites." NextCard's collaboration with Gator.com supersedes an agreement the card company announced in May with Launchpad Technologies Inc., developer of eWallet. That same month, Launchpad acquired PointCast, the Internet news and information service, and formed a San Diego-based company called EntryPoint. The changes shifted the company's focus toward on-line information distribution.
Though NextCard will continue to distribute eWallets on a pilot basis for a few weeks, its emphasis has shifted to Concierge, Ms. Mahesh said. All new customers "will be linked through the wallet. Once they get the Concierge, they will be linked to all NextCard's services right there on their desktop."
NextCard has been busy forming Internet relationships with companies it says will be valuable to its cardholders. Last week it announced that Advanta Corp. of Spring House, Pa., would be the "preferred provider of nonconforming mortgage products to NextCard's on-line applicants."
NextCard reported last Thursday that it lost $22.8 million in the third quarter on revenue of $8 million. That compared with a $4.8 million loss on revenue of $255,000 a year earlier.
Customer accounts increased to 134,000 on Sept. 30 from 85,000 June 30. Managed loans reached $268 million, up from $163 million three months earlier.