American Express has announced the development of new technology allowing internet users to purchase online without revealing their credit-card number.

The new, free service branded Private Payments will provide shoppers with a one-off number for each transaction, substituting this for their actual card number. Once registered with the service, buyers are automatically given a random number for each purchase, and simply key-in their password to confirm the payment.

The move comes amid concerns that potential internet shoppers are reluctant to purchase online because it involves revealing their card details. “This fear”, according to Alfred F Kelly Jr of American Express, “is the biggest obstacle for a real boom in e-commerce”.

Private Payments is the first such service offered by card issuers, and will be available to holders of any American Express card within a month. Rivals are expected to follow suit.

News source: Wall Street Journal