Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) is an open protocol which has the potential to play a large role and dominate the market in providing secure electronic transactions. Jointly, Visa and MasterCard and vendors such as IBM have worked to create SET as an open standard for protecting the privacy, and ensuring the authenticity, of electronic transactions. SET is critical to the success of electronic commerce over the Internet; without having a system for authenticating consumers and merchants, it leaves all parties involved vulnerable. Security measures need to come from the top down and bring uniformity to each industry. SET may sound like a necessity but has not been popular in the United States.
Consumers in the United States spend billions of dollars over the internet each year, and it is reported by MasterCard that the majority of the purchases are made without using SET. Most merchants who sell over the internet are using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for their internet stores. Typically this would be enough, but fraud is on the rise. The economy is contributing to increased instances of internet theft and identity theft.
SET was created back in 1997 to take the process of security a step further by allowing the use of digital IDs to vouch for the identity of the merchant selling the product, as well as the consumer making the purchase. SET is widely used in Europe and is said to be a headache to use. The process is tedious and requires the buyer to place electronic software on their PC to obtain the digital ID from their credit card issuer to vouch for their identity. It is difficult to distribute this many digital IDs and software loads without hiring access staff.
Here we are over a decade later and this technology is still on the back burner, even though it is highly recommended that SET be used by everyone. In order for SET to work, the customer must have a SET-enabled browser and the transaction provider or storefront must have a SET-enabled server. The customer will receive a digital certificate that functions as an electronic credit card for online purchases. It will include a public key with an expiration date and will have been through a digital switch to a bank to ensure its validity.
For more detailed information about SET you can visit Visa, MasterCard or your bank’s website
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