Secure Transactions Across Networks Mean Lower Costs, Expanded Markets

PARIS, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Visa International today announced that they have signed a letter of intent to jointly provide a standard, convenient and secure method for executing electronic bankcard transactions across global public and private networks. Their secure solution will help expand the market for electronic commerce by providing new opportunities for consumers, merchants and Visa member financial institutions.

The secure transaction technology will consist of software that supports both the cardholder and merchant sides of a transaction and works with the VisaNet payment system to authenticate buyers and sellers and to secure transactions for clearing and settlement. Microsoft and Visa will publish specifications that make secure transaction technology available to other software vendors and card systems to implement themselves or license from Microsoft.

The technology will be developed initially for the Microsoft(R) Windows(TM) operating system family and is scheduled to be available in 1995. It will include extensive encryption capabilities based on technology from RSA(R) Data Security, Inc.

"The technological leadership of Microsoft, along with the global financial reach of Visa, allows the consumer to make payments over networks worldwide as easily and safely as payments made in person," said William L. Chenevich, group vice president, Visa International. "Our relationship with Microsoft will help to accelerate the growth of commerce over electronic networks and will open up new opportunities for our member institutions, merchants and cardholders worldwide. As the information highway becomes defined, we must look at a variety of alliances and a variety of ways to protect the financial relationships of our members and their cardholders." Chenevich also indicated that the two companies welcomed the interest and support of other parties.

"Right now, we're all street people on the information highway; we can't protect our privacy and information; we can't prove who we are; we can't buy anything," said Nathan Myrhvold, senior vice president of Advanced Technology at Microsoft. "The Microsoft-Visa technology solves these problems by using public-key technology to assure safety and privacy, and easy-to-use client software which allows consumers to use their existing bankcards to pay for goods and services across multiple applications and merchants."

Will F. Nicholson, Jr., chairman of the board of directors of Visa U.S.A. and president and CEO of Colorado National Bankshares, Inc., added that U.S. financial institutions were facing new challenges in a changing payments environment to provide their customers with service and support. "With Microsoft, we have an opportunity to bring together technology and banking, as consumers explore alternative methods of purchasing at new points of transactions," he said.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day. Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Washington, U.S.A.

Visa, the world's largest consumer payment system, has more than 11 million acceptance locations. Visa member financial institutions have issued more than 357 million cards worldwide including more than 185 million in the U.S. Visa also has the leading global ATM network. Visa, headquarters in the U.S., has offices in London (Europe region), Tokyo (Asia Pacific region), Toronto, (Canada region) and Miami (Latin America region).

Microsoft is a registered trademark and Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

RSA is a registered trademark of RSA Data Security, Inc.

/CONTACT: Albert Coscia of Visa, 415-432-2039; or Shelly Julien or Michele Bourdon of Waggener Edstrom, 206-637-9097/ 10:50 EST