Auction bidding goes mobile with WAP

Allegro Auctions is hoping to take an early stab at the current WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) hype, offering WAP phone users here the option to sell and bid for goods offered on its Website.

The local online auction company converted its Internet auction application into a WAP-enabled platform using Arthur Andersen's security infrastructure, where WAP phone users can sell and bid for items offered on Allegro's auction system, said Uantchern Loh, director of Andersen Labs for Internet and security.

The phone subscribers will be given a PIN (personal identification number) and digital signatures which are shrouded by Arthur Andersen-developed security technology called Secure Enterprise Application Layer (SEAL), Loh explained.

Digital signatures are critical for e-commerce because merchants need to know who their buyers are, providing for non-repudiation where users cannot deny they conducted the transactions, he said.

Also, mobile phone users already have billing addresses with their telecommunication service providers who can be roped in as partners to help handle the payment, he said. Banks and financial institutions can also be potential partners, he added.

Allegro is currently negotiating with both local telecommunication service providers and telecommunication equipment providers about forming alliances, Loh said, noting that "a memorandum of understanding is being drafted now".

While it is a little premature to launch WAP services now when the phones are not yet readily available in the market, it is a good opportunity to address any teething problems, said Nicholas Khoo, analyst for cellular communications, GartnerGroup Asia-Pacific.

"There's probably little, and variable incremental cost in running the service once it is developed, so there's really no harm in launching it," Khoo noted. "It's definitely also a good idea to start debugging and testing service performance in the field."

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