An announcement set for today will reveal more about the payments software company Trintech Group than the usual run of new product details.
It will reflect the role Trintech played a week ago in the agreement on the Electronic Commerce Modeling Language, the standard for digital wallets that was endorsed by some of the most influential companies doing business and processing payments on the Internet.
Trintech is launching ezCard, a "virtual credit card" for Internet transactions that the Irish-American technology company has been promoting behind the scenes in recent months. The idea gained momentum in part because of Trintech's close relationships with companies like Compaq Computer Corp. and Visa International.
As the first piece of consumer software that embodies Electronic Commerce Modeling Language principles, ezCard indicates that Trintech was far more than a company that was just along for the ride.
Visa U.S.A. orchestrated the effort devoted to, and the publicity surrounding, what has become known as ECML. Trintech chief executive officer John McGuire pointed out that Visa's activism stemmed from several innovative electronic payment programs around the world that were powered by Trintech software.
The Visa-Trintech relationship was solidified in recent weeks with the introduction of Visa's Internet Payment Gateway. Underpinning this system, designed to promote rapid deployment of payment services for on-line merchants, was Trintech's PayGate NetAcquirer software.
At the same time, these companies were together pushing for ECML. It took shape as a classic Internet-era standardization campaign. Aggressive competitors decided it would be to their and the market's long-term benefit to increase the size of the pie, rather than fight over crumbs. And likeminded technologists rallied to the idea.
When asked how Trintech might benefit from a standard available to anybody, Mr. McGuire said, "We actually have it in our products today," apparently ahead of the competition.
"Being the biggest on the Internet does not necessarily mean you are the best," he said. "You want to be the fastest. A rapid response is what we have gained a reputation for.
"Having to share it is the Internet way. The advantage is in being fastest to market." For now, Trintech is claiming that victory while basking with others in the glow of ECML.
The idea of standardizing personal payment information for e-commerce was so compelling that Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all agreed on it.
Once the virtual wallets become common on personal computers, shoppers would dip into them the way they make payment choices at real-world stores. The payment brands and card-issuing banks will be vying for favorable positions-a process that may be a bit different on-line, where many consumers choose a single "default card" for all purchases from a given site.
Microsoft Corp. and two archrivals, America Online Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc., also climbed on the bandwagon. Alongside Trintech were International Business Machines Corp. and electronic-wallet competitors Cybercash Inc. and Transactor Networks. Compaq was among the primary ECML sponsors, and Dell Computer Corp. was in the first group of "e-tailers" supporting the format.
"ECML will help Dell customers easily complete their on-line transactions and further strengthen our direct, one-on-one relationship with them," Janet Mountain, vice president of Dell Home Systems, said in a comment typical of those who hailed the ECML release on June 14.