Kicking off what could prove to be a full blitz on the electronic commerce business, Verifone Inc. has signed its first agreement with an interactive systems developer.
Verifone, best known as the world's largest point of sale terminal manufacturer, is pursuing methods to move its transaction processing services out to other remote devices.
The Redwood City, Calif.-based company inked a deal earlier this month with BroadVision Inc., a company that develops software for new high-tech distribution channels such as interactive television, on-line computer services, and computer networks.
Together, the pair plan to create a new integrated platform that will allow for the passage of card payments between new electronic commerce outlets and existing payment networks.
Verifone's Virtual Terminal, as the interface is called, will be integrated into BroadVision's electronic commerce platform, enabling service providers to link their electronic storefront applications to their more conventional systems. BroadVision is putting together a range of software tools and subsystems to encourage marketing and sales over electronic pipelines, such as interactive television and the Internet.
For Verifone, a veteran of the remote banking business, the project merely extends the mechanized payment process to new locations, said Roger Bertman, the company's vice president for corporate development.
"The thing that we're really good at is knowing how to interface to the existing payment structure," Mr. Bertman said. "This is indicative of the kinds of things we'll be doing over time in electronic commerce."
Verifone will also be releasing a "broader set of communications software products" by the end of this year, he added.
One wrinkle in this agreement, however, is that it will place Verifone software on non-Verifone platforms, expanding the transaction device maker's reach beyond its mainstay of retail terminals, Mr. Bertman said.
He added quickly that this does not signal Verifone's branching out into processing the transactions. It does, however, herald an important progression in the company's strategy to stretch out from the retail counter.
This process is part of the natural evolution of Verifone, according to Mr. Bertman, based on the groundwork laid by the company's founder, Bill Melton.
Since founding Verifone, Mr. Melton has gone on to launch a start-up company, CyberCash Inc., whose aim is to secure financial transactions as they are passed over public computer networks. Mr. Melton's vision of the payment infrastructure has, in great part, fostered the changes happening at Verifone.
"What Bill built in terms of focus and organization and culture continues to be very vibrant and alive in terms of electronic commerce," Mr. Bertman said.
Leaving the door open for possible alliance between Verifone and its founder's new venture, Mr. Bertman said the two companies "could be complementary to each other." But he declined to comment on whether Verifone is pursuing any specific projects with CyberCash or any other electronic commerce service providers.