Web services-based spec for mobile payments released

PayCircle, an industry organisation representing more than 30 companies including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Sun, has released a...

PayCircle, an industry organisation representing more than 30 companies including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Sun, has released a specification for conducting mobile commerce via a Web services paradigm. Other major vendors such as BEA Systems, IBM, and Microsoft are not members of the organisation.

The PayCircle Payment Web Service Specification 1.0 is now available for public review and for implementation in products. The specification is intended to offer a standard way to provide mobile commerce payment services for data services on devices such as PDAs and mobile phones.

The focus of the specification is to enable mobile commerce via standard APIs, which would be used by merchants and content and ASPs.

PayCircle's specification uses Web services specifications WSDL and Soap as well as XML to provide for payment services, according to Jacob Christfort, vice-president of product development at Oracle's mobile products and services division.

In the payment scheme, WSDL describes the information going back and forth over the wire, Soap makes the service request, and the Soap message is formatted using XML.

Service providers have to use multiple interfaces to communicate payment information, Christfort said. "With this specification, you just have to write one interface and it will automatically work together with all the different billing systems."

PayCircle anticipated the specification would boost growth of mobile commerce. Oracle, for its part, plans to support the specification in the next version of the company's application server, which will be discussed at the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco next month.

But BEA Systems, considered to be the leading Java application server vendor, is not a member of PayCircle, according to the organisation's membership list. Microsoft and IBM are also not listed.

The PayCircle specification potentially represents a new division in the Web services standards arena, which already has seen companies such as Oracle and Sun at loggerheads with IBM, Microsoft, and BEA over efforts in areas such as Web services orchestration for e-business.

A key intention of PayCircle's effort is to enable "micro-payments", which are transactions below $10, such as sending a stock quote, which can cost more for the payment service than the actual data service itself costs, Christfort said.

"Micro-payments are payments that fall below the feasibility of traditional payment systems," such as credit card-based transactions, Christfort added.

The PayCircle consortium was formed in January.

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