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June 27, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:30pm

MICROSOFT FIRMS UP E-COMMERCE EFFORT WITH FIRST DATA VENTURE

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp yesterday proved how serious it is getting about internet commerce with the formation of a joint venture company with First Data Corp to establish a system to enable companies top send bills to and receive payments from consumers. It should be available early next year. Denver, Colorado-based MSFDC, as it is known, will use existing electronic payment methods to produce richly formatted bills for consumers. Trials will begin with banks and billers later this summer. First Data is a Hackensack, New Jersey company that has payment processing software. Interestingly, it has already integrated its technology tightly into Netscape Communications Corp’s server offerings and seemed closely aligned to the company. Now it would seem that First Data has done the same with Microsoft’s server software. Microsoft will provide most of the software products, while First Data will run the operations and data center. The federal automated clearing House (ACH), which processes most of the direct debit and direct deposit transactions in the US, will be used for this venture. MSFDC claims to have server software for banks to integrate into their home banking services, while maintaining their own brand identity. The venture is split equally between Redmond and First Data, but the two were not revealing terms. Microsoft said there would staff from both companies, as well as new recruits and the number would be in the hundreds. The two companies have formed an advisory board comprising representatives from financial institutions, industry associations and billing service providers. Founding members include American Express Co, Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citibank and Wells Fargo. Industry associations include the American Gas Association, Edison electric Institute and US Telephone Association. International Billing Services and CSG Systems Inc are two of the billing representatives. Microsoft will use 128-bit encryption in its software, but said the announcement was not linked to this week’s award of an export license for its encryption software, provided it was exported to banks. Netscape got a similar export license. https://www.msfdc.com

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