Amid the hubbub of the Visa-MasterCard antitrust trial, the world paid little or no attention to the fact that Visa on Monday officially gave up trying to implement SET, the Secure Electronic Transaction specification for Internet payments, in the United States.

Part of the reason for the collective yawn may have been an opaquely worded press release ("Visa International Launches Secure E-Commerce Initiative") that disguised what the card association has actually done. Acknowledging that the U.S. merchant community has no use for the foolproof but cumbersome SET standard, Visa has come up with some alternative standards based on SSL, the Secure Sockets Layer protocol that everyone here uses.

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