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U.S. Patent 5,757,917 - Abstract:

A payment system for enabling a first Internet user to make a payment to a second Internet user, typically for the purchase of an information product deliverable over the Internet. The payment system provides cardholder accounts for the first and second Internet users. When the second user sends the information product to the first user over the Internet, the second user also makes a request over the Internet to a front end portion of the payment system requesting payment from the first user. The front end portion of the payment system queries the first user over the Internet whether to proceed with payment to the second user. If the first user replies affirmatively, a charge to the first user is processed off the Internet; however if the first user replies negatively, the first user is not charged for the information product. The payment system informs the second user regarding whether the first user's decision and pays the second user upon collection of the charge from the first user. Security is maintained by isolating financial and credit information of users' cardholder accounts from the front end portion of the payment system and by isolating the account identifying information from the associated e-mail address.