Sun Microsystems Inc.'s JavaSoft unit is coming out with a tool kit to promote electronic commerce using its increasingly popular Java computing language.

Like other such packages created for system developers, the offering is designed to simplify and accelerate Internet purchases and financial transactions.

Scott McNealy, chairman of Sun Microsystems, will discuss the Java Commerce Toolkit today at the Bank Administration Institute's Retail Delivery '96 conference in Dallas.

While Sun, already influential in Internet technology, aims to become even more so through the programming language that it created, it has essentially offered Java to the electronic commerce market at large.

The tool kit's endorsers already include International Business Machines Corp., JCB of Japan, Netscape Communications Corp., Visa International, and the digital commerce developers Cybercash Inc., First Virtual Holdings Inc., and Mondex International.

Included in the kit are "cassettes" that enable credit card payments via the MasterCard-Visa Secure Electronic Transactions protocol, as well as Mondex stored-value transfers and Cybercash's Cybercoins for micropayments.

"Java will be ubiquitous," said Arthur Coleman, electronic commerce product-line manager at JavaSoft in Mountain View, Calif. "Because our technology is open - Java is designed to be written once and run everywhere - it behooves folks who want to run electronic commerce on an open platform to use it."

He said alliances and tool-kit packages are essential to deal with the new medium's complexities. But given the buzz surrounding Java, "I have more people who want to join the program than I have technicians to support them," Mr. Coleman said Tuesday.

Bankers have seen pieces of the Java framework. At the American Bankers Association bank card conference Oct. 1, Mr. Coleman and JavaSoft president Alan Baratz demonstrated a prototype of Java Wallet, which lets customers and merchants choose from a wide range of payment options.

Mr. Baratz said Java is "the first truly open platform" and "scalable beyond belief" - meaning its programs can run on computing devices of any size. One could be smart cards, as Mr. McNealy showed in the recent release of his Java Enterprise initiative with a Java Card application programming interface.

Besides the wallet and cassettes, the kit includes a "shopping cart" for merchant storage of transactions, and sample software code to streamline applications development. An "early access" licensing program is open through January.

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