VeriSign and eBay in deal on domain names

Online marketplace eBay and VeriSign today announced a partnership to market VeriSign domain names on eBay as well as an agreement to have eBay make use of the VeriSign authentication service to establish the online identity of sellers in eBay's online auctions.

The arrangement between eBay and VeriSign calls for eBay to promote the sale of registration rights of domain names on eBay and establish eBay as a place for obtaining domain name registrations. The domain name marketplace is starting with the .bz domain names, which are available on a joint eBay and VeriSign Web site. The finaical terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In addition, eBay will make use of VeriSign's authentication services to verify the idetity of auction place sellers in the future. According to Anil Pereira, executive vice president and general manager of VeriSign's enterprise and service provider division, this will involve VeriSign becoming involved in the eBay registration process for sellers.

VeriSign's so-called "Authentication Service Bureau" makes use of the Lightbridge business and consumer information source as part of a back-end process to check personal identification provided by sellers, Pereira said.

When the user, wishing to be recognized as an eBay seller, enters information online about his identity, VeriSign will seek to authenticate the identity of the user in real time through a dynamic question-and-answer query. This might require the user to answer questions about his or her monthly online mortgage payment or other restricted information that could be checked via the back-end databases very quickly.

"It will be a 'yes-no' score as a passing check," Pereira said. He notes there is also a "manual exemption process" if the online registration process isn't wholly successful for any reason, which would involve the user calling an 800-number in order to pursue the seller registration process.

VeriSign's authentication services range in terms of the type of personal information that would need to be supplied to pass the online identity check. The toughest authentication process for sellers will be used by eBay in "high-value transactions," Pereira said.

VeriSign and eBay have been testing the online authentication service for several months, with operational use expected to begin in June. Pereira said there are business-to-business e-commerce sites that use the VeriSign Authentication Service Bureau - he declined to specify which ones - but that this is the first time it will be utilized in a consumer-focused trading environment.

EBay was not immediately available for comment. But in an issued statement, eBay Vice President of U.S. operations Jeff Jordan said, "Our new relationship with VeriSign continues our tradition of providing eBay with the latest tools designed to shiop in a safe, friendly and trusted environment."

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