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September 16, 1998

IBM AND SAP OFFER SECURE TRANSACTIONS OVER WEB

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp and SAP AG have announced new software for the retail module of SAP’s R/3 ERP (enterprise resource planning) software that will make it possible for customers to carry out secure electronic transactions over the web. The German software giant said it plans to integrate IBM’s Payment Suite, incorporating Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) technology, with its SAP Retail Online Store. A spokesperson for SAP said that in the past, its Retail software only allowed users to make payments via an invoice or by using their credit cards. He said that this system, which relies on SSL level encryption, wasn’t secure enough since neither the merchant (the user with the R/3 system) nor the customer could verify the identification of the opposite party. But being SET compliant means IBM’s software introduces a third party, or certificate authority, which adds an extra level of security by sending verification certificates to both the customer and the merchant. It also means that the vendor never gets possession of the user’s credit card details, as was the case in the past, he added. For customers to make SET payments, they have to apply to the credit card company for a special SET wallet. This is a password-protected piece of software that sits in the browser and holds the user’s details so that they don’t have to be entered for every transaction. The spokesperson said SAP had been looking for an SET partner and IBM was the first to come forward. This is the first time IBM’s Payment Suite has been used in conjunction with an ERP system and the company will be looking to push its software to other vendors, a spokesman for Big Blue said. SAP won’t integrate the suite until the next version of its ERP system is launched, next February. The company said it would also offer IBM’s Makoro for Merchandise Planning application as an option on R/3. The latter is an application designed to enable seasonal retailers, like those in the fashion industry for example, to keep a close track on inventory during special winter, summer or back to school-type promotions.

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