The commercialization of the Internet also relates to digital products and services offered through this network. A special segment is the information market to which the following product types belong, among others: electronic publications, databases, digital media products such as film, television and radio, software and games as well as consulting services. The growth of this market, so the common assumption, is hampered by non adequate payment systems that do not meet relevant criteria such as data security, user friendliness, reasonable transaction costs, etc..
The obvious need for electronic payment systems on the Internet for transactions with consumers has led to a wave of innovation and a variety of different approaches. Currently, many discussions revolve around the (still hypothetical) introduction of internationally accepted "digital cash" and the establishment of so-called micropayment systems that partly still operate with money denominations below the penny.
It is not yet clear which solutions will be developed in the coming years and will actually win a broad significance for the information market.
The objective of this project is to present the state of the art with special emphasis on the special situation in Germany, to identify likely developments, and to provide policy relevant information. In the frame of the project expert interviews were carried out, the essence of which is presented in the report "Blütenträume" (pipe dreams). In addition as part of the project, an electronic discussion list EZI-L was maintained and an electronic newsletter EZI-N was published regularly.
As part of project PEZ 1999 an evaluation of "payment software" was performed from a user's point of view (specifically: CyberCash, eCash, debit card, IBM Micro Payment, Millicent). The user experience was also the focus of a section of the 99th MMK conference.
In continuation of this research, that was originally funded by the BMBF, a study was performed for the European Parliament (within the framework of the ESTO network) on the state of e-commerce and of electronic payment systems in Europe. In addition, the research team also conducted further evaluations of e-money software or software-wallets, respectively. As part of the "Electronic Payment Systems Observatory (ePSO)" funded by DG industry of the European Commission, ITAS was responsible for an electronic newsletter, ePSO N, on electronic commerce and electronic payment systems.