Infrared Payment Technology on Tap

BOSTON (08/22/2000) - Carrying a wallet full of credit and debit cards may soon be unnecessary for those who prefer to carry a handheld computer. The Infrared Data Association (IrDA) Tuesday announced that it has used an infrared messaging system to complete a check authorization transaction successfully.

The project by IrDA's Special Interest Group for Financial Messaging (IrFM), which IrDA said will establish an Infrared Financial Messaging protocol, will use existing equipment and connections to send infrared payment messages, use existing network infrastructure to clear and settle transactions, and allow for the use of credit cards or deposit accounts to make payments.

IrDA sees digital transactions as being simpler for both the customer and the merchant. Instead of writing out a paper check or using a plastic card, the customer beams the instructions from his or her personal information appliance, which will hasten the transaction process, IrDA said.

Demonstrated by CrossCheck Inc., a check authorization company, and Personal Solutions Corp., the co-leaders of IrFM, the transaction occurred in mid-July at the quarterly IrDA meeting.

The companies used an unspecified infrared-equipped Palm Inc. device and a Toshiba Corp. Libretto, which beamed requests for check authorizations to a point-of-sale terminal, in this case a VeriFone Inc. Tranz 330 that was retrofitted with an infrared device from ACTiSYS and a custom cable from CrossCheck.

The terminal's request was then sent to CrossCheck's main processing center through a dialup server. After verification, a check authorization message was sent back to the terminal in less than 4 seconds, according to IrDA.

The Infrared Data Association, headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, can be contacted at +1-925-943-6546 or at

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