In retreating from the Internet payments business, First Virtual Holdings Inc. is encouraging its 2,000 active merchant accounts and 60,000 consumers to become Cybercash Inc. customers.

The move could help Cybercash close in on the 10,000-merchant mark that it has viewed as a key to profitability. The Reston, Va., company, which entered the Internet payments business about the same time First Virtual did, serves more than 7,000 merchants. That number increased by 750 in June. First Virtual has turned its attention to interactive messaging and advertising.

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