Magazine article American Banker

Microsoft Moves Seem to Signal New Interest in Smart Cards and Electronic Commerce

Magazine article American Banker

Microsoft Moves Seem to Signal New Interest in Smart Cards and Electronic Commerce

Article excerpt

Microsoft Corp. has solidified its support for three transaction- related technical standards in a move that may be a prelude to deeper involvement in smart cards and Internet commerce.

Microsoft submitted its digital wallet software for certification under SET, the Secure Electronic Transaction standard sponsored by MasterCard and Visa.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant also said it will make such products as Windows NT and Internet Explorer compatible with FIPS 140-1 and Fortezza, key federal cryptographic standards that could promote the commercial spread of security tokens-potentially smart cards-for electronic authentication of parties to a transaction.

Taking previously stated commitments to SET and Fortezza to new levels, Microsoft is improving the utility and flexibility of its software.

It is essentially bidding for more electronic commerce and federal government business.

The company's aim is "product security and quality in a heterogeneous environment," said Pete Hayes, general manager, Microsoft Federal Systems. "We are committed ... to bring the best standards-based implementations to market."

But some observers have been waiting for Microsoft to drop another smart card shoe, perhaps becoming an issuer faster than banks and other U.S. laggards. Concerned about software piracy, Microsoft might use chip cards to authenticate authorized users.

The company's chairman, Bill Gates, has publicly endorsed smart cards.

Microsoft has also been in the forefront of PC/SC and BioAPI, efforts to standardize personal computer linkages to smart cards and biometric identification, respectively. …

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