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Electronic Commerce in Practice - What Have We Learned?

Clifford Neuman, University of Southern California (moderating); Ed Vielmetti, First Virtual Holdings, Inc.; Marc Briceno, DigiCash; Steve Crocker, Cybercash; Daniel Geer, Open Market, Inc.; Malu Roldan, University of California, Berkeley; David Van Wie, InterTrust

The members of the panel each spoke briefly about their experience with building electronic commerce systems in the real world. Steve Crocker described Cybercash's automation of the customer/merchant payment authorization process, and said that they have about 150 merchants using their main system, and about 20 merchants using their newer small payment system. Dan Geer stated that OpenMarket has moved its focus to automating web commerce between businesses, rather than between merchants and customers. Malu Roldan described how existing companies move toward using the web, saying that there's a lot of interest in cheap initial experimentation. David Van Wie said that InterTrust is focusing primarily on information commerce, distributing movies, newspapers and software electronically, and that InterTrust also believes that business to business is the place to start. Ed Vielmetti described First Virtual as a global, low cost payment system in which anyone can be the buyer and anyone can be the seller, with about 200 merchants and 180,000 customers. Finally, Marc Briceno described Digicash's e-cash system for providing the buyer with complete anonymity.

General discussion and questions from the audience followed. Some points of agreement seemed to be: that customer service actually tends to be a bigger cost than fraud, at least for retail systems; that our understanding of what we want in an electronic store is still evolving; that there is plenty to be done in automating existing real world systems; and that merchants are looking to reduce costs more than to increase business. Opinions were divided on the usefulness of risk modeling. The difficulty of building global electronic commerce systems while different countries have different laws and expectations was acknowledged.

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Alma Whitten