Wells Fargo & Co. is claiming another on-line first for a U.S. banking company: processing credit card payments over the Internet in multiple currencies.
The San Francisco-based company was enlisted by One Galaxy Solutions Inc., an electronic commerce subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., to help software companies market products overseas. They are focusing initially on Japan, where Mitsubishi is based, and the United Kingdom.
The $202 billion-asset banking company processes card payments made to software companies that use One Galaxy's services. On the recently launched "Marketplace" Web site, Japanese and U.K. buyers of software can pay in their home currencies without having to do conversions.
An early entrant into on-line banking and payment services, Wells was among the first to do credit card clearing for virtual merchants.
"They are very aggressive in the Internet banking area," said Ken Takano, president and chief executive officer at One Galaxy Solutions. The banking company also has close ties to Silicon Valley's high-technology firms, and One Galaxy is based in Santa Clara, Calif., in the heart of that area.
From Wells' standpoint, the agreement "helps our merchants expand their scope and offer greater convenience to their customers," said spokesman Mark Marymee. The bank collects an undisclosed transaction fee.
Allaire and NetObjects are among the software marketers using the service, which is targeted at smaller companies or those without an electronic commerce presence in the United States.
One Galaxy also sets up Web sites for companies that already sell products on-line in the United States and want to reach overseas markets. For example, it can establish and maintain a Web site in Japanese with pricing in yen.
The company is planning similar efforts for Germany, Australia, and the Scandinavian countries, a spokeswoman said.
Selling on-line is "not just putting up a Web site," said Mr. Marymee. "They have to have in-country sales and distribution. They have to deal with the currency transaction issue. Or they can come to One Galaxy and get all of that."
An attraction for consumers, Mr. Marymee said, is that the price they see on the One Galaxy Web site is the price that appears on their credit card bills.
Before setting up One Galaxy as a separate company about a year ago, Mitsubishi had marketed U.S. products on-line in Japan with prices listed in dollars.
"It was a little troublesome," said Mr. Takano. "People don't have experience buying goods in U.S. dollars. To penetrate into a larger market, the currency presented a barrier."
Wells Fargo and One Galaxy are positioned to take business away from overseas banks on which software companies typically would rely to do multiple currency processing.
As an example of how One Galaxy's Marketplace works, people in the United Kingdom could log on to the site at www.onegalaxy.com and find the description and price of a piece of software they want.
To buy the software, they would enter their credit card information, which would be transmitted to Wells for authorization and settlement through the card networks.