December 11, 2000, 1:14 PM — In an attempt to improve online shopping for both consumers and merchants, 12
giants in finance and information technology today announced the creation of a
universal format for digital wallets.
The idea behind a digital wallet is to store standard payment information about an
online shopper so that the information -- such as credit-card number, billing address
and so forth -- can be reinserted whenever the user shops online. Because the uniform
data fields are listed in a standard form, the wallet knows where to put which
information with each purchase, avoiding tedious retyping and reducing input errors.
The format, Electronic Commerce Modeling
Language (ECML), was formed by American Express Co., Dell Computer Corp., IBM,
MasterCard International Inc., Microsoft Corp., SET Secure Electronic Transaction LLC,
Sun Microsystems Inc., Transactor Networks Inc., Trintech Group, America Online Inc.,
CyberCash Inc. and Visa USA, according to a release.
Several online merchants, including Beyond.com, Compaq Computer Corp., Dell,
fashionmall.com, healthshop.com, iGo Corp., Nordstrom Inc., Omaha Steaks International
Inc. and Reel.com will support the standard initially.
ECML uses a uniform set of field names that will streamline the way merchants
collect electronic data for online billing, payment and shipping. The standard is also
intended to make the process more convenient for consumers by simplifying the process
of filling in financial information on online forms.
The ECML format, which can be used with existing data security protocols including
Secure Socket Layer and Secure Electronic Transaction, is available today for online
merchants and technology vendors.