Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced a partnership with a security software vendor that will enable consumers to link some Visa and MasterCard accounts to their .Net Passports.
Consumers shopping online with cards issued by banks that support the Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Payment Application programs can log on using their Passport accounts via Arcot Systems Inc.s TransFort payment authentication software. Merchants can thereby verify that the person using the credit card is in fact the owner.
Both the Visa and MasterCard programs enable online merchants to authenticate the credit cards users through the use of various technologies, such as digital signatures.
The Passport announcement comes less than a week before Microsofts main competition in the online identity management area, the Liberty Alliance Project, plans to unveil its long-awaited 1.0 specification. Liberty Alliance members have been critical of Passport, saying it is a proprietary technology that limits users options. Microsoft officials say that they have always intended to federate Passport and make it available to whoever wants it.
However, unlike Microsoft, Liberty Alliance will not be producing a product, but a specification that member companies such as Novell Inc. will use to build technologies or integrate into existing products.
Arcot, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said the deal with Microsoft gives its customers another option for authenticating users.
"The integration of .Net Passport with our TransFort solution will give consumers a simple, familiar and completely transparent way to secure their online purchases," said Ram Varadarjan, CEO of Arcot.
The two companies plan to make the service available later this year.
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