Franklin Roosevelt, never considered the biggest friend of banks, would probably be amused that an international consortium of financial institutions named its new online payment standard after his wife. Project Eleanor, so tagged because the group's first working meeting was convened in New York's Roosevelt Hotel, is the brainchild of Identrus, a bank group formed to provide a structure for e-commerce.

There are grand hopes for Eleanor, which is designed to become a secure, non-proprietary, global system that all companies could use as the online equivalent of checks. As a check is accepted universally by banks and companies, so too would an Eleanor payment, Identrus hopes.

Eleanor's security is provided by Identrus' digital certificate system, which those making or accepting payments use to validate their identities. Here's the process: A corporate buyer with a digital certificate issued by its bank sends an Eleanor payment to its vendor, whose bank must also participate in Eleanor.

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