In the wake of recent developments in the world of electronic commerce, CyberCash Inc finds itself in a curious, but possibly advantageous, position. Hewlett-Packard Co’s acquisition of VeriFone Inc (CI No 3,147), and the newlyweds’ planned e-commerce system with Microsoft Corp – who have also introduced a digital wallet software similar to CyberCash’s own wallet (CI No 3,154) – may not seem like good news to the struggling company. But the Reston, Virginia-based internet payment specialist says it welcomes developments such as these. A CyberCash executive said he smiled when I heard the news of HP’s acquisition of VeriFone, a CyberCash competitor. Even though the acquisition put VeriFone in a position to take advantage of the potentially lucrative partnership with Microsoft, there are several factors that make it appealing to CyberCash. A deal among high-profile companies and the resulting momentum for e-commerce is good for everyone in the market. CyberCash says it will make money based on transaction processing fees, so it sees anything that helps to generate transactions as a positive development. Another thing to keep in mind is the incestuous nature of the e-commerce world. Both VeriFone and CyberCash were founded by the same person, CyberCash chief William Melton, and VeriFone – and therefore now HP – has a minority stake in CyberCash. So the potential for CyberCash to find its way into the Microsoft alliance before it becomes etched in stone is not unlikely, although a CyberCash spokesperson stressed that talks to that effect have yet to take place. What CyberCash could bring to the proposed system are its CyberCoin small payments system and its PayNow secure electronic check payment service – two things it says VeriFone doesn’t have. What VeriFone does have, alliances with major financial institutions, CyberCash is currently seeking. It signed deals with two German banks during the first quarter (CI No 3,151) and has said that securing more financial partners is a priority. As far as the wallet software goes – both VeriFone and now Microsoft have their own – CyberCash says it never intended to make money from software, but only from the anticipated boom in electronic transactions that the software makes possible. To that end, CyberCash says that it will evolve to Microsoft platforms if that’s what it takes to make its e-commerce dreams come true.
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