approach to marketing. Verifone Inc. and Verisign Inc. announced Monday that they will bundle their products to offer a "single source, best of breed" package for secure Internet payments. In the latest of a long string of hopeful statements from these and other companies in this emerging field, Verifone and Verisign said they expect to give a boost to SET, the Secure Electronic Transaction protocol promoted by the MasterCard and Visa associations. As is common in dealing with open software standards like SET, the Verifone-Verisign relationship is nonexclusive. Each company would work with a competitor of the other if a customer so desired. But under their preferred-provider agreement, they will, as a rule, be selling Verifone's vPOS, vGate, and vWallet virtual payment components along with Verisign's digital certificate technology. Under SET, certificates are issued to authenticate cardholders, merchants, and financial institutions. Verifone and Verisign said their arrangement makes SET quick and easy to deploy. The companies lay claim to leadership positions in their respective fields and expect to build from there as the first full-fledged SET programs - complying with version 1.0 of the specification - come on stream. "This is the first end-to-end solution that we have done with a market leader," said Richard Yanowitch, Verisign's vice president of marketing. "I see it as the beginning of a trend for vertical industries." "The affiliation with Verifone gives us a better opportunity to sell as a one-stop shop," said Thomas Honey, a former Visa and International Business Machines Corp. executive who directs Verisign's financial services efforts. "As applications begin to emerge, you will see more of this coopetition movement." "We know payments, Verisign knows certificates, and together we provide a better solution than some of our competitors who try to do it all," said George Hoyem, vice president and general manager of Verifone's Internet commerce division, Santa Clara, Calif. He did not name the name, but IBM is usually in the center of Verifone's competitive sights. IBM also often butts heads with Verifone's parent, Hewlett-Packard Co. The partnership approach more resembles that of an alliance comprising Compaq Computer Corp.'s Tandem Computers subsidiary, the digital security vendor GlobeSet Inc., and Hypercom Corp., which also competes in Verifone's original core business of point of sale terminals. All these competitors have been racing to get 1.0 products to market. At times they have cooperated in the interests of accelerating the standards process, which has dragged on longer than many in the payments industry had hoped. IBM and Verifone, for example, have committed to making their SET software interoperable. Mountain View, Calif.-based Verisign, which worked closely with Visa in the SET drafting stages, said it has participated in more than 160 pilots of the technology around the world, which may be a measure of its early advantage. Mr. Hoyem said the two "Veris" have worked closely on many projects and at the Visa level, which helped bring them together. Also contributing to the power of the alliance is the fact that Verifone software is built into electronic commerce systems from Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Open Market Inc., and others. These collaborations "accentuate the importance of providing customers a complete solution," said Glenn Osaka, vice president and general manager of HP's extended enterprise business unit. The Verifone-Verisign combo, "with its industry-leading technology and global reach, is positioned to bring the promise of electronic commerce to reality."
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