Consumer Payment Card News

e-Christmas Launched

A consortium of European electronic trade organizations and businesses, including key partners Hewlett-Packard Company, KPMG, Microsoft, UPS, Eurocard-MasterCard and Visa, announced `e-Christmas’ – an initiative to increase knowledge of electronic commerce among European businesses.

The project centers around the creation and operation of an innovative multi-lingual, multi-currency retail Web site which will market holiday gifts from retailers and manufacturers in nine European countries to Internet consumers around the world. The e-Christmas site goes live on Nov. 10, 1997 at e-Christmas has two objectives. First, it will educate and excite consumers, retailers and merchants, by demonstrating the opportunities and benefits of electronic commerce. Second, the initiative will assist European businesses in keeping pace with competitors in other regions, helping to prevent the creation of a technology gap between Europe and the United States.

Developed using Internet technologies from Microsoft and HP, the site is available to consumers in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Payments systems differ according to the consumers country of origin, but cover major credit cards including Visa and Eurocard-MasterCard.

The e-Christmas initiative provides European businesses with a focus for learning more about this critical new channel and its impact upon all aspects of their organizations. The project will be monitored by consultants KPMG and their analysis of the results and experiences will be published in a report available to all businesses.

The e-Christmas site (at will feature hundreds of gifts from European retailers. The site and its supporting service will overcome many of the barriers holding back wider adoption of electronic commerce. e-Christmas is multi-lingual; can handle payments in local currencies; provides information about tax and import duties at the `point of sale’; and gives high levels of service for delivery and online tracking of orders to most countries of the world, within a single purchase price and as part of an integrated service.

e-Christmas is a concrete response from industry to the challenge from the European Commission (EC) to raise awareness among businesses and consumers, which the EC identified in its recent communication A European Initiative in Electronic Commerce, as key to the vigorous growth of electronic commerce in Europe. The objectives of the project are also consistent with the electronic commerce policies of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Partners supporting the project with contributions of computing technology, software and professional services include: Eurocard-MasterCard, HP, KPMG, Microsoft, UPS and Visa. Additionally, within the nine participating countries 21 Internet Service Providers and over 20 solution developers are working with retailers and merchants to establish and host stores. The number of retailers participating in the initiative will continue to grow throughout the duration of the project. Electronic trade organizations participating in the initiative include the IMRG (UK) L’Echangeur (France), Berinor Associates (Spain) and DETECON (Germany).

Retailers are able to participate easily through the rapid creation of an e-Christmas storefront – a process which can take as little as two days of programming. A Merchant Agreement ensures consistent service across all retailers within the site.Purchases can be delivered to most countries of the world by the projects fulfilment and logistics partner UPS, which has also integrated its online tracking capability with the e-Christmas service to allow consumers to check the delivery status of their purchases. For more information on how consumers interact with the site and the technology used to build it, read the e-Christmas FAQs.

About the e-Christmas project:

e-Christmas is an independent European initiative in electronic commerce inspired by a group of electronic trade organizations and supported by business partners in retailing, payments, management consulting, package distribution and information technology. e-Christmas aims to educate and excite consumers, retailers and merchants about the benefits of online retailing, and increase levels of awareness, knowledge and understanding among European businesses. Among over 100 companies participating in the e-Christmas initiative are leading partners Hewlett-Packard Company, KPMG, Microsoft, UPS, Eurocard-MasterCard and Visa. The e-Christmas site goes live at on Nov. 10, 1997.

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