Microsoft has made an unspecified agreement with a payment processing company, in what could be another step toward establishing its own online payment system.
The agreement is with Symmetric Systems, which runs VitalPay, a payment processing platform.
Microsoft didn't detail in its announcement how technology from Symmetric Systems will be linked with its software. But Microsoft has a variety of point-of-sale software, CRM (customer relationship management) and Web-based offerings that could potentially integrate with Symmetric's offerings.
Microsoft also lacks a payment system. Google has its Checkout service, and auction giant eBay bought PayPal in 2002. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said in January the company was interested in finding a way to undercut the fees charged by credit card companies for transactions.
On its Web site, Symmetric Systems lists its focus areas as transaction management services, billing systems and CRM (customer relationship management) technology.
Symmetric's software and hardware are integrated with global banking and settlement system systems and are capable of check, debit and credit card processing and managing loyalty card programs.
For online retailers, Symmetric offers software to integrate virtual shopping carts into Web sites plus secure call center applications.