Microsoft has signed an agreement with a payment processing firm that experts have said could be a precursor to it launching an online checkout service. The agreement with Symmetric Systems will give the software giant access to the firm's online transactional platform, VitalPay.
VitalPay provides regulatory-compliant payment services, including mail and telephone order facilities and card-not-present transactions, to retailers and merchants, as well as travel and airline companies.
Microsoft refused to comment on why it had struck the deal with the firm or how it would link Vital Pay's capabilities with its own. But the software vendor has a variety of point-of-sale, customer relationship management (CRM) and web-based software offerings that could potentially integrate an online payment facility with.
It does not have its own payment facility, which could provide a way of capturing the internet consumer according to Martha Bennett, research director of financial services technology at Datamonitor.
"It's a pretty appropriate deal when you look at it in a wider context," Bennett told IT PRO. "Microsoft has been pretty desperate to capture the online consumer, if you look at recent activities concerning Yahoo. MSN isn't really a main competitor in search and Passport was a disaster. And, apart from the Internet facility on the X-box, it has been an also-ran when it comes to capturing Internet consumers."
She also said it was technically feasible for Microsoft to link with VitalPay to create a potential rival to Google's Checkout and Papal, particularly given its customer base of retailers using its Dynamics retail software suite. "The integration would be nice to have, but it will only be any good if it brings the merchants with it," she said.