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Chapter 15. Payment Systems > The Role of Payment

The Role of Payment

In many respects, online payment is the foundation of systems for electronic commerce. The ability to take payment distinguishes an electronic commerce system from one that provides only advertising or other communications capabilities. Incorporating payment abilities, however, adds considerable complexity to a system. First, the security of both the payment mechanism and the overall system must be sufficient to protect the system. Second, the system must provide a high degree of integrity for transactions—the system must not lose or inadvertently change a payment transaction.

This chapter considers what happens once the buyer and the seller have agreed on what is being sold and its price. We examine payment systems from several points of view. First, we look at real-world payment systems to understand how we might construct analogous online systems. Second, we describe some of the systems already developed for online payment. Next, we consider how payment for so-called microtransactions might be accomplished. We conclude with a brief discussion of the abstract issue of payment and its role.


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