Payment Processing Brought to AS/400

GartnerGroup (Stamford, Conn.) notes that the electronic payments industry is expected to be $1 trillion for businesses by 2003 and $140 billion for consumer electronic payments by 2003. A new package on the market enables AS/400 sites to join this growing market.

Signio Inc., (Redwood Shores, Calif.), a provider of Internet payment services, is now shipping a native AS/400 transaction processing platform. Signio's AS/400 product, Payflow Pro, offers components to automate payment for AS/400-based Web sites and enables companies to authorize, process and manage multiple payment types, multiple currency options and different payment schemes online.

Pacific Sunwear (Anaheim, Calif.) is the first company to integrate the Signio AS/400 solution. "We were looking for a reliable payment processing platform to ensure a seamless online shopping experience for our customers," says Ron Ehlers, VP of information services at Pacific Sunwear.

Payflow Pro is available as either a Shopping Cart/E-Commerce Platform, or as a Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK is an SSL TCP/IP enabled communications agent that takes routing parameters to locate and establish communication with Signio's transaction server. It also contains a free form set of name/value pairs that contains the transaction data to be processed.

"Payflow Pro is essentially using the same technology and underlying infrastructure we developed for other platforms, then ported to the AS/400 environment," says Chris Kraft, product manager for Signio. "One key thing we saw in the AS/400 environment was the lack of a solution that extracts payment connectivity."

Payflow Pro Features unlimited credit card and Internet check transactions at fixed monthly fees of $39.95 for less than 10,000 transactions, or $495 for unlimited transactions. The solution handles multiple payment types, including credit cards, purchase cards, debit cards, and Internet checks. "Typically, merchants in the AS/400 environment operate on a larger scale than Internet merchants, but the payment itself is not going to be a revenue or profit-generating service for us," says Kraft. Instead, Signio intends to focus on value-added services around the transaction processing.

These economics may be attractive to a number of e-commerce sites. "Merchants usually need to pay at least $1,500 a month for redundant leased lines to install their own high-performance service," says Avivah Litan, research director of Payment Systems at GartnerGroup. "However, if merchants prefer controlling the payment process themselves so they can guarantee service and performance, they may want to look for alternative solutions.

"Until Signio gains proven multicurrency payment, fraud detection and merchant account acquisition capabilities, merchants and vendors that need these features must look elsewhere. Customers should keep a watchful eye on Signio as it expands and make sure the Payflow products can stand the stress of future growth."