Payment Manager Added to IBM WebSphere Family

Observers might argue that the transition to e-commerce has changed nearly every aspect of how many companies do business. That perception is true to a large extent--with an important exception. Regardless of how and to whom e-businesses are selling their products, there is one aspect of business that hasn't changed--vendors still have make sure customers pay their bills.

Because "paying the bill" is no longer as simple as handing the clerk a check or credit card, IBM has introduced WebSphere Payment Manager 2.1--formerly called Payment Server--to serve payment hosting needs of various service providers, banks and other financial institutions. While Payment Server was geared toward servicing individual companies, Payment Manager 2.1"is oriented towards creating an application that payment servers can use to provide payment processes for multiple merchants," according to Jeff Sumner, market manager for IBM Payment Suite.

Payment Manager allows service providers to securely and efficiently link merchants and payment processors. The updated version gives providers the ability to host a payment service for multiple remote merchants, while guarding against any attempt by individual merchants working with the same provider to gain access to any other's transactions. Payment manager will also help ease consumers' minds with enhanced security systems for credit card, debit card or stored smart card transactions. In addition, the new version's Multipayment Framework (MPF) can be adapted to process new payment methods. As part of the WebSphere product family, Payment Manager is meant to be a step in developing an overall e-business strategy.

"This is the first product to be repackaged in the WebSphere Commerce Suite. Over time, we will be moving our other e-commerce applications into the WebSphere Commerce Suite," Sumner says. "There are a number of benefits: It leverages the application server, it's packaged with the application server and future versions of this product will take better advantage of the WebSphere Application Server."

For merchants, Payment Manager integrates payments into business processes and software such as online catalogs and accounting packages, offers multilanguage/multicurrency support and reduces potential losses due to fraud and chargebacks resulting from misuse of customer and credit card data. Sumner says the product addresses customers' requests for a convenient but secure way to handle payment processing for their online businesses.

"We deal with large and small companies who say they want to be able to turn this kind of application over to service providers, and this gives them that freedom," he explains.

With the release of Payment Manager 2.1, IBM announced it has entered into agreements with several customers and business partners--among them First Data Corp., NOVA Corp., ShopNow.com, and Visa--whose products have the capacity to make Payment Manager's offerings more reliable, versatile or secure.

WebSphere Payment Manager is currently available on the IBM AIX, Windows NT and SUN Solaris platforms, and will be available for AS/400 in the near future. The base price per processor is $15,000, which entitles the user to run Payment Manager on behalf of one merchant. Extended licenses cost $175 per additional merchant. To simplify installation and implementation, the software is packaged with the IBM DB2 Universal Database, IBM HTTP Server and IBM WebSphere Application Server.