IBM pumps up e-commerce

IBM Corp. is working with a Pennsylvania firm on a device that would allow consumers to make e-commerce transactions at vending machines, gas station pumps and other points of sale.

IBM Corp. is working with a Pennsylvania firm on a device that would allow consumers to make e-commerce transactions at vending machines, gas station pumps and other points of sale.

The e-Port device, developed by USA Technologies Inc., will be manufactured by IBM (NYSE:IBM), officials said. IBM will also work with USA Technologies to convert its proprietary technology to an Internet-standards based system.

The e-Port terminals contain a video screen that displays rotating advertisements where consumers can respond through a touch-screen or speakerphone. By swiping their credit card, consumers can make purchases through the machines, and can enter e-mail addresses and other information.

The systems are currently being pilot tested in Philadelphia.

IBM decided to work on the e-Port to push "whole notion of pervasive computing - anytime, anywhere computing," said Robert Gault, vice president small and medium business services for IBM Global Services.

"A lot of people have been talking about it, but until Palm came out with its handheld device and some of the phone companies started coming out with data capability. There really isn't a lot until the e-Port," he said.