JEPI Launch Report

by Rohit Khare

Approximately forty-five participants attended the December 18th launch of the CommerceNet/ W3C Joint Electronic Payments Initiative. The meeting, jointly hosted by CommerceNet's Tom Wills and W3C's Jim Miller, outlined the scope, structure, and participation requirements for this highly visible e-commerce project.

JEPI aims to demonstrate, by August 1996, working payment-selection, negotiation, and purchasing scenarios. The necessary technology will be developed by an ensemble of server, browser, payment system providers in conjunction with ``real'' merchants. JEPI initially expects to handle this with technology for payment-system-description similar to Don Eastlake's Universal Payment Preamble, and W3C's PEP technology for embedding payment data in HTTP transmissions.

The project Steering Committee consists of representatives from CommerceNet (Tom Wills) and W3C (Jim Miller), as well as from two other member consortia, the Open Software Foundation (Ken Rodrigues) and the Financial Service Technology Consortium (Dan Schutzer). Each of them will, in turn, be ex officio members of four subcommittees: Browser Technology (Jim), Server Technology (Ken), Payment Systems (Dan), and Merchant (Tom).

Each participating company will be able to dedicate resources to each of the subcommittee, but the Steering Committee will choose two representatives from each subcommittee to join the Core Team. The Core Team, with 12 members, including the Steering Committee, will be able to meet regularly and ensure coordination between the subcommittees.

Companies that join the project will have to commit to implementing the negotiation protocol in a product (for testing purposes), 3/4 of a full-time staff person for the duration, covering out-of-pocket expenses, weekly one-hour teleconference, and two three-day project meetings. In return for that commitment, participants will gain early access and input to the development of a bedrock technology for e-commerce. W3C will also be dedicating the time of two of its technical staff, Rohit Khare, who is designing HTTP-extension technology, and Phillip Hallam-Baker, who is researching payments protocols and applications.

The final deadline for commitments from W3C and CommerceNet members to participate in this project will be January 8, 1996. Confirmations must be sent by electronic or postal mail to Jim Miller, jmiller@w3.org, or Tom Wills, TWills@commerce.net.