IBM sets sights on securing B2B Web payments

In an effort to allay security concerns for corporations conducting business over the Internet, IBM Corp. recently announced a new program that lets companies offer secure online-based payment services to their customers and partners.

Big Blue’s B2B trusted e-payments program is software that works with Identrus’ electronic security for billing and payments via the Web. Identrus LLC, formed in 1999 by eight banks, including Barclays Bank PLC, Citigroup Inc. and Chase Manhattan Corp., is building a global security system based on digital signatures, smart cards and public-key infrastructure technology that enables financial institutions and trading partners to identify one another in online transactions.

The e-payments program runs on IBM’s flagship WebSphere e-commerce platform, enabling WebSphere users to integrate their existing and future networks with their processing and purchasing systems, IBM says.

The payment software includes Tivoli Systems Inc. SecureWay Policy Director, a tool that centralizes network and application security policy; WebSphere MQ Integrator, software that exchanges messages between applications; and Java Cryptography Architecture, a framework for accessing and developing cryptographic capability.

It also supports SWIFTNet for IP, a messaging standard for exchanging mission-critical financial information and transactional data, and will likely support additional financial network communications standards in the future, according to Kathy Troidle, IBM’s program director of trusted e-payment solutions.

Companies want to make large transactions online and not worry about liability, Troidle says. She declined to give more specifics about the payment software, except to say more details will be announced in the coming months.

Jeanne Capachin, an analyst at Meridien Research, says IBM’s payment software should help secure and streamline online payments.

Businesses may introduce themselves online, but for now, they’re finishing transactions offline, Capachin says. “This software will help businesses automate the procurement cycle completely, including payments. Buyers and suppliers know each other, and now they’ll have the trust of banking institutions to vouch for them and their clients,” she says.

Two Japanese banks, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Industrial Bank of Japan, are running pilot programs with the software, and IBM says it expects other banks and corporations to participate in testing as well.

The payment software is set for release in June 2002.