The first end-to-end credit-card purchase using the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) protocol was a thriller - literally.
In the closing hours of 1996, Carl Christian Aegidius, IBM's Nordic director, purchased the Stephen King novel Rose Madder, a story about a woman on the run from her husband, using the SET protocol. He did so under a pilot program established by IBM, MasterCard International and Danish Payment Systems. SET goes beyond encryption by ensuring that both parties, the seller and the buyer, are who they say they are.
The pilot program will begin in earnest later this month. At that point, five merchants and 500 to 1000 Danish Payment Systems customers in Denmark will use their Eurocard-MasterCard cards to purchase goods via the Internet. The pilot program will run through the first and second quarters of 1997.
It is possible that all customers of major credit-card companies will be using SET for credit-card Internet transactions by the third or fourth quarter, says Scott Dueweke, marketing manager for the electronic payment and certification group at IBM.