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The creation of a concept that lasts like Monopoly happens rarely. This decade we will see a similarly successful and long-lasting concept emerge, a new concept that takes financial matters into a different dimension: global online electronic commerce. The interesting thing is that it places quite a large emphasis on the network that is supposed to survive a nuclear attack but has at one time or another fallen prey to rampaging teenagers.
For a relatively insecure environment such as the Internet, there is quite a significant amount of development for future online commercial transactions. With the recent test release of the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) system, we see the next generation of online commerce efforts backed by such giants of the financial industry as Visa and MasterCard as well as computer industry bigwigs like IBM, Netscape, Microsoft, and SAIC.
In addition, the established secure communications protocols and standards such as SSL and RSA continue to thrive in their own area of the transmission of high-risk information such as credit card numbers, financial information, and personal data.
With these ongoing efforts, you might have wondered: "What about providing interfaces to these systems through Java? Sun and JavaSoft would have had to be pretty blind if they were to ignore the future of financial transactions, right?"
Well, don't fret. The Java Electronic Commerce Framework (JECF) will provide the programmatic interface for your Java applets and applications. JECF is the set of APIs that will help you develop commerce applications.
JavaSoft will surely release commercial server applications incorporating these APIs. But as always, do not confuse the API with the implementation product.
The simplest way to describe JECF is to give an example scenario of how JavaSoft envisions online transactions will function. Typically, this involves a user with a browser (capable of running Java, of course) who visits a site with JECF-based services. This JECF-based service can appear in the form of an online-store Java applet in your browser, or it could be a specific Java application on your machine.
Once you have selected the item you wish to purchase, you click on the button on the applet to pay for the goods. Using a payment cassette module in the applet, a message is sent to the remote server indicating the purchase. When the cassette is received, the browser will then display three new applets:
Here's where the JavaWallet comes in. The Wallet holds a set of online credit or debit cards. Each card has your unique card number and identification information stored locally on your system. This encoded information is passed to the store server each time you purchase an item or a basket of items.