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A Thing On Track with IrFM

On Track with IrFM

     In issue 00:03:01 we told you about IrFM, a non-proprietary payment protocol that functions as “a common track” for processing digital payments. At that time, the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) had  approved a Special Interest Group (SIG), there was strong interest in IrFM from industry members, and the concept was scheduled to be presented to The Financial Services Technology Consortium. (The FSTC sponsors project-oriented collaborative research and development on interbank technical projects affecting the financial services industry.)

          In the interim, FSTC’s executive committee reviewed and subsequently approved the SIG’s proposal. The official form was that of a Memorandum of Understanding, which created a link between IrDA, a non-profit association that promotes and sets standards for the exchange of data between electronic systems using cordless, infrared connections, and FSTC to open a bilateral flow of information. IrDA is charged with setting and supporting hardware and software standards, that use infrared communications links,and the IrFM SIG will post progress reports on specification development and FSTC will encourage its bank membership to participate in requirements definitions and marketplace trials. The IrFM SIG plans similar approaches to relevant trade associations so that all stakeholders in payments systems have a voice in developing the “wireless” financial messaging protocol.

          In the 00:03:01 article, we noted that developing a new payment system is an evolutionary process. First, the concept needs to be introduced to industry members and possible partners. So, the first step was to go to IrDA.

          The evolutionary process seemed to pick up speed at the IrDA’s most recent quarterly meeting. The group accomplished four tasks and is working on a fifth.

  1. The IrDA’s Marketing, Technical, and Architectural committees examined and approved the IrFM Directional Paper. IrDA’s Board of Directors approved the paper on July 20, 2000.  

  2. IrDA elected H. R. Damon Gonzalez, Jr., Vice President-Business Development of CrossCheck, Inc., to Co-chair the IrDA Marketing Committee as a part of the association’s strategy to significantly expand the use of Ir technology. IrDA’s objective is to foster compelling software applications that ride on infrared. The IrFM project is seen by the association as its key initiative in this strategy. Gonzalez told us, “Among the new watchwords in the network world is M (mobile)-Commerce, the business of transacting commercial events literally from a rock in Biscayne Bay. IrFM is about laying tracks in this wireless environment. IrDA has successfully spread infrared technology into over 150 million portable devices. IrFM then is potentially the ‘killer app’ for both infrared technology and consumers on the move.”  

  3. ACTiSYS, a manufacturer of infrared dongles, will be taking CrossCheck’s Check Authorization demo product and the IrFM White Paper (a portion of which was printed in the 00:03:01 issue of The Green Sheet) to IrDA Taiwan for a live demonstration of infrared financial messaging capability originating offshore ultimately to be processed on CrossCheck’s AS400 database. In addition, ACTiSYS will be showing this demo and the IrFM vision to representatives of the government in Taiwan for possible use in some of their payment systems.  

  4. The IrFM project is working on a script for Pilot 2 which will feature the initiation and settlement of actual payments based on processing to a consumer’s asset account (checking/DDA account) or on settlement in a liability account (credit card account). CrossCheck will be developing the capability for settlement to DDA accounts. The project is simultaneously working with Visa International to develop the credit card settlement capability.  

  5. Finally, the IrFM project has been working on a joint venture between two large oil companies to explore the use of IrFM specifications as a mechanism for consumers to pay for their fuel at the pump using infrared light.

     The next step is to finish the first draft of the IrFM specification which will be the groundwork for the final architecture of the protocol. The project is also preparing for World PC Expo 2000 in Tokyo, Japan where it plans to show Pilot 2, the demonstration of payment instruction, clearance, and settlement.

     As a part of our efforts to keep you up to date on the evolution of infrared devices, and payments in general, we will continue to publish progress reports. For more information about IrDA activities, visit

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