Westpac is seeking to overcome consumers' e-commerce security concerns with the launch of an online shopping directory, entitled eMarket, on the bank's Web site.
Participating merchants receive a free Web link on Westpac's eMarket home page (at www.westpac.com.au), and will display a 'Westpac Secure Payments Symbol' on their own Web sites.
The symbol confirms that online credit card payments will be processed through one of three Westpac-accredited secure payment solution providers -- Camtech, Australian Business Access, or Telstra SureLink.
Credit card transactions through eMarket will be protected by 40-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) between the merchant site and the secure payment specialist.
Between the payment specialist and Westpac transactions will travel on the national Eftpos network.
Westpac verifies that the card used for the transaction is not stolen, in real time, by checking it against stolen card databases.
According to Jonathan Poole, head of Internet services at Westpac, the bank guarantees safe passage of the credit card payment, and its service agreements with merchants entail "a degree of review of the merchant's standing".
"First of all eMarket is a tangible way of [Westpac] supporting our business customers," Poole said.
"We also pick up a merchant service fee based on the volume of business processed -- typically between 2 and 3.5 per cent of the transaction value."
So far, 25 merchants are listed in the eMarket directory, and Poole hopes that number will swell to 150 in the next three to six months.
Developed over the past 10 months, Westpac's eMarket initiative is supported by the federal government and a hotlink on the eMarket site takes consumers to the government's Online Australia site which offers hints and tips on online shopping.