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A digital wallet (also known as an e-wallet) allows users to make electronic commerce transactions quickly and securely.

A digital wallet functions much like a physical wallet. The digital wallet was first conceived as a method of storing various forms of electronic money (e-cash), but with little popularity of such e-cash services, the digital wallet has evolved into a service that provides internet users with a convenient way to store and use online shopping information.

Contents

Technology

A digital wallet has both a software and information component. The software provides security and encryption for the personal information and for the actual transaction. Typically, digital wallets are stored on the client side and are easily self-maintained and fully compatible with most e-commerce Web sites. A server-side digital wallet, also known as a thin wallet, is one that an organization creates for and about you and maintains on its servers. Server-side digital wallets are gaining popularity among major retailers due to the security, efficiency, and added utility it provides to the end-user, which increases their enjoyment of their overall purchase.

The information component is basically a database of user-inputted information. This information consists of your shipping address, billing address, payment methods (including credit card numbers, expiry dates, and security numbers), and other information.

Setup and Use

A client side digital wallet requires minimal setup and is relatively easy to use. Once the software is installed, the user begins by entering all the pertinent information. The digital wallet is now setup. At the purchase/check-out page of an e-commerce site, the digital wallet software has the ability to automatically enter the user information in the online form. By default, most digital wallets prompt when the software recognizes a form in which it can fill out, if you chose to automatically fill out the form, you will be prompted for a password. This keeps unauthorized users from viewing personal information stored on a particular computer. for this reason main benefit of this type of wallet is that you do not need to complete forms. instead once you fill your account info in your client side wallet in first time,it is enough for other use.

ECML

Digital wallets are designed to be accurate when transferring data to retail checkout forms; however, if a particular e-commerce site has a peculiar checkout system, the digital wallet may fail to properly recognize the forms fields. This problem has been eliminated by sites and wallet software that use ECML technology. Electronic Commerce Modeling Language is a protocol that dictates how online retailers structure and setup their checkout forms. Participating e-commerce vendors who incorporate both digital wallet technology and ECML include: Microsoft, Discover, IBM, Omaha Steaks and Dell Computers.

Advantages for e-commerce sites

Upwards of 25% of online shoppers abandon their order due to frustration in filling in forms. (Graphic Arts Monthly, 1999) The digital wallet combats this problem by giving users the option to transfer their information securely and accurately. This simplified approach to completing transactions results in better usability and ultimately more utility for the customer.

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