MasterCard, 724 offer secure wireless transactions

MasterCard International has partnered with 724 Solutions to jointly develop software that will enable secure transactions over wireless phones, personal digital assistants and other internet-enabled devices.

The software and systems being developed with Toronto-based 724 Solutions will allow MasterCard's member financial institutions to extend "highly secure" payment capabilities to customers who can make purchases or pay bills using wireless devices, said Art Kranzley, senior vice president for ecommerce and emerging technologies at the Purchase, New York-based credit provider.

MasterCard has 23,000 member financial institutions serving customers in 220 countries; 17 million businesses accept MasterCard as payment.

A spokeswoman for 724 Solutions said it will incorporate MasterCard into its "digital wallet" technology - software that resides on a wireless device and allows users to conduct secure transactions, with MasterCard as one of the payment options on a phone's screen.

MasterCard and 724 Solutions plan to present standards they are developing for secure transactions to the Wireless Applications Platform (WAP) Forum next month. The WAP Forum represents a wide variety of global wireless hardware manufacturers, software developers and application services providers.

724 Solutions has incorporated several security features into its Financial Services Platform that will be used by the joint venture. These include encryption with a 128-bit cipher internet transport layer Security and Elliptic Curve Crypto Systems public-key technology from California-based Certicom, for users of Palm handheld devices. Security for mobile phone devices is provided with cipher and secret-key software from in California. MasterCard and 724 Solutions plan to roll out the new service worldwide, with pilot testing expected later this year.

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