An Infrastructure for Customizable and Divisible Card Payments for Online Purchases
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04-10-2010, 09:11 AM

.doc   An Infrastructure for Customizable and Divisible Card Payments for Online Purchases.doc (Size: 942 KB / Downloads: 41)
This article is presented by:Shreeshah Vedagiri

An Infrastructure for Customizable and Divisible Card Payments for Online Purchases


Customers are often better off if they can use a combination of credit cards for a single purchase. To support this functionality, we need two things. First, we need an infrastructure that allows the customer to divide a single purchase transaction into multiple cards. Second, we need a tool that assists the customer in making the complex decision of which combination of cards to use. This project and implimentation provides the design a new infrastructure that supports the divisible card payment where a combination of multiple cards can be used for a single purchase. The main strength of this virtual card payment infrastructure is that it requires only two minor modifications to the existing infrastructure. First, the V-Card Manager (VCM) is added to the merchant side to handle the divisible card approval process from respective credit-card issuers. Second, the customer is equipped with the V-card Agent (VA) that generates a customized divisible card based on her preferences. “The Divisible Credit Card Payment Project” led by Dr. James Geller of the Computer Science Department of the New Jersey Institute of Technology aims to explore the possibility of applying divisible card payment to the existing infrastructure.

The “Divisible Credit Card Payment” project and implimentation is divided into four modules. Output of one module is used as input to another module. Thus, modular design helps in further development and maintenance of the system.

The Virtual Agent is one of the four modules of the “Divisible Credit Card Payment” project and implimentation. As a developer of the project and implimentation, my responsibility was to develop the Virtual Agent and a bank simulation using Java Server Pages. This is a Web based application that uses Tomcat Web server to run the Java Server Pages. The database used to store the application details is Oracle.

Credit cards are the payment choice in e-commerce. Despite the on-going development efforts on various kinds of new payment systems for e-commerce, online shoppers use credit cards for a majority of their purchases. Research shows that 85% of all Internet transactions are done with online credit card payments and that customers are more comfortable with and feel more secure about using credit cards over the Internet (Bohle 2002, Jewson 2001, Lawrence 2002).
When people use credit cards, they expect functionalities different from, say, cash transactions. Credit cards, although not providing anonymity, offer the balance carryover functionality such that the purchase amounts on a credit card can be carried over to the future and be paid in installments with interest. Many credit cards offer additional features, such as cash-back on a percentage of total purchases made, travel protection, additional warranty, or airline frequent flier miles. In such a myriad of choices and features, a customer may be better off using a particular card, depending on his/her preferences and spending habits. For example, a customer who carries a large balance may prefer a card with a lower interest rate, while another customer who does not carry a balance, but likes traveling, may prefer to use a card affiliated with an airline company to receive airline miles. Furthermore, customers are sometimes better off if they can use a combination of credit cards for a single purchase.
This project and implimentation describes an infrastructure that supports the divisible payments of a single purchase (Soon Ae Chun 2004). In the new infrastructure, a Virtual card (V-card) is created and used each time the customer wants to use a combination of cards. This new infrastructure modifies the existing systems in two ways. First, to support the divisible card payments, the Virtual Card Manager (VCM) is added to the merchant side. The VCM handles the divisible card approval process between the merchant and the respective credit card issuers. Second, to support the customer’s card-usage decisions, the new infrastructure provides the customer with a V-card Agent (VA). As which card to use is a complex decision, an optimization model is built into the VA. Based on the customer’s preferences, the VA generates the best option that may suggest using multiple cards for a single purchase (Soon Ae Chun 2004).
It is believed that the proposed infrastructure is well suited for online purchases. The creation of the V-card does not create a physical card but only a valid card number, and thus this is well suited for Web purchases where no physical card needs to be handled. The VA’s optimization decision needs computing power, and therefore online purchases that use computers in the first place are a good fit for the divisible card payment infrastructure. It is also expected that this infrastructure will be effective in the emerging mobile commerce domain. The VA residing at the customer’s mobile device, for example, may assist the customer’s decisions at runtime.

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