The promise of SET, as Visa called it last year when the secure electronic transaction protocol was unveiled, has yet to deliver, deterred by glitches and a lack of acceptance. And despite card companies' vigorous protocol support, many

in the analyst community contend that SET may hold little promise at all. "In 1998, it looks like SET is impotent," says Christopher Stevens, senior analyst for electronic commerce at Boston-based Aberdeen Group. "The problem is that even if they get the interoperability problems solved, and even if they do get merchants to start installing the software, they still don't have a good channel or good story for consumers."

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