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Huge quarter tipped

Internet transactions of some US$12.2 billion have been prdicted for the fourth quarter of 1999 by market researcher Dataquest.

This figure is around three times more than the amount spent online last year, raising the issue of processing so many transactions.

An Internet credit card transaction is much like other ‘card not present’ transactions that have been conducted for years via telephones and mail ordering systems.

However, taking this process to the Internet has both consumers and merchants concerned about security issues, mostly due to a fear of computer hackers.

There are many ways businesses can accept credit card details over the Internet, with some being more secure than others.

The use of encrypted e-mail for ordering and relaying credit card information is an option perhaps for smaller businesses who already own a merchant account and do not need to use large databases to keep track of ordering or card numbers.

For larger companies doing business on the web, there are a number of options, including complex and expensive software that is constantly developing to keep on-top of security issues and the changing needs of business.

Many businesses decide to hand over their Internet transaction processing to an Electronic Commerce Network. Transaction solutions and costs vary significantly, so research is needed to discover the best option.

Some web hosting services also offer electronic commerce capabilities, and secure pages for customers and clients to make transactions.

However the Western Australian Department of Trade and Commerce warns e-tailers that credit card details stored at a web hosting service must be accessed over a secure connection or emailed using encryption.

Once the credit card details have been obtained they also recommend that they are stored in a separate computer not connected to the Internet.

Dealing with different communications platforms and technical interfaces used to conduct transactions means that the best option for many companies is to consult an IT professional.

Research is usually necessary if a business wishes to get the best possible e-commerce solution.

Some of the helpful Australian websites which offer independent advice include:

• AUSe.Net – Australian Electronic Business Network at www.aebn.org.au/

• The Australian Business Home Page

at www.abol.net/

• CommerceNet Australia

at www.commcercenet.com.au/

• Heartland (which targets rural business)

at heartland.com.au/

• Tradegate ECA at www.tradegate.org.au/

• The Getting Business Online (a report available as a PDF file) at www.dist.gov.au/infoind/busonline/gbo.pdf

• Western Australian Ecommerce Centre at www.ecommercecentre.online.wa.gov.au/

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