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Wireless Systems Design

SMS Mobile Commerce Guarantees Security

In the grand wireless vision, people everywhere were predicted to communicate, e-mail, surf the Web, pay for transactions, and more on a wireless device. Originally, this scenario was hard to imagine. With cellular phones and computing devices converging, however, it's becoming more of a reality. New handheld devices offer more entertainment, text, and graphics options. Now, they are enabling m-commerce as well.

The world's first Short Messaging Service (SMS) m-commerce service was recently started by BOC Credit Card Ltd. (, CSL (, and Visa International. This service uses "Verified by Visa," the global specification for ensuring the security of payments both online and with mobile phones and other wireless devices. Each "Verified by Visa" mobile transaction is therefore authenticated and approved by a Visa-card issuer. The result is a high security level for wireless payments.

CSL customers and BOC Visa credit-card holders have already started using this new m-commerce service. Successfully registered users can pay conveniently and securely for goods and services via SMS anytime and anywhere. Using their mobile phones over the CSL network, users supposedly experience the same level of security that they have in the physical world. "Verified by Visa" has already been adopted as a secure online-payment standard by over 6000 Visa-card issuers worldwide.

The six-month pilot of the SMS program is now going on in Hong Kong. During this period, the three collaborating parties are partnering with a variety of merchants to offer applications such as phone-bill payment, movie-ticket purchases, and golf-course booking. After the pilot is over, they plan to explore and develop different types of applications.

To enjoy this service, customers are required to register on a designated Web site: This site is hosted by BOC Credit Card and CSL. For authentication purposes, customers are asked to create a unique password. This password will then be used when the user is completing a mobile transaction via SMS over CSL's network (see figure).

In real time, the "Verified by Visa" service will allow the card issuer to verify the mobile users' identities through their passwords. This step will take place before any charges or debits are authorized for wireless purchases. Such an approach provides customers with added protection.

The main driver behind this partnership was to ensure maximum convenience and security for BOC Visa credit-card holders. To attain this goal, the three parties leveraged CSL's network services, along with its expertise on technology and m-commerce. With an SMS-based m-commerce service using "Verified by Visa," consumers will hopefully find shopping easy, safe, and enjoyable anytime and anywhere.

TAGS: Mobile
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