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T here's a new heavyweight contender going after the crown in e-commerce payment processing. The PaymentNet Service (http://www.paymentnet.com) is the industry's only single-source, automated, multipayment, secure gateway for real-time processing of credit-card orders, purchase cards, electronic checks and other forms of e-commerce payment, says Greg Xenakis, PaymentNet's marketing director.

The company is marketing PaymentNet as the antidote for Internet merchants who are "disappointed by slow, costly, cumbersome, and inefficient Internet-based payment solutions."

The PaymentNet Service has already enlisted a number of major banking partners, including First Data Corp., Wells Fargo and Unified Merchant Services. It has also attracted Value Village, one of the largest Internet cybermalls. The American Heart Association has committed to using the service, as have Network Solutions Inc. and AtYourOffice.com.

"PaymentNet is not subject to the `time-outs,' which result in double-billing problems, plus we've automated a lot of the processes small businesses need, such as manual batch settlements. All settlements in batch mode are settled automatically by PaymentNet at the end of each business day," Xenakis says. "Also, Internet storefront merchants using [other e-commerce payment processing services] have to maintain their own credit-card data, which can present some security risk. We keep all our customers' credit-card records on a double-encrypted security server."

PaymentNet users get low cost of service and exponentially faster processing speeds, as well as more advanced services, such as "delayed" transactions for delayed product fulfillment, storage for multiple credit-card numbers, and other automated account-management, processing and reporting features.

The service also includes back-end account management through a secure site that provides a virtual desktop terminal, daily transaction reports, credit authorizations, delayed settlement for Visa and MasterCard compliance rules, and partial-order settlement management. "PaymentNet has a lot of value built in for small businesses. It was originally built for big, industrial-strength clients, but we've re-engineered it for smaller merchants, while giving them plenty of room to expand," Xenakis says. "Small businesses can grow from a small package group to [one with] larger, more sophisticated features. For instance, they might start with simple credit-card processing, then graduate into accepting purchase cards and e-payment transactions through a single gateway."


Kurt Samson is a freelance business writer and public relations consultant in Annapolis, Maryland.

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