OBI part 2- | WebReference

OBI part 2-

Open Buying On The Internet

Last summer, the Internet Purchasing Roundtable, a group of Fortune 500 companies and their leading suppliers heeded the call to help and announced the Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) Standard to eliminate some problems with today's systems and processes. "The OBI Standard should break through the gridlock that has prevented corporations and suppliers from transacting business over the Internet. Having a common standard will facilitate Internet commerce and should deliver significant savings for users." says Thayer Stewart, Vice-president of Marketing for American Express Corporate Services.

Under the sponsorship of American Express ( and SupplyWorks, Inc. (, the Internet Purchasing Roundtable created OBI as a freely-available set of specifications for software developers. Copies of OBI Version 1.0 are presently available at Within the constructs of OBI are an architectural approach for e-commerce systems, detailed technical specifications and guidelines for development, record layout formats, file formats, communication structures and protocols, etc. Also included a compliance testing guidelines and implementation assistance.

The ongoing maintenance of OBI will be carried-out by the non-profit OBI Consortium, whose membership is open to any buying and selling organization, technology company, financial institution, or other interested parties.

The OBI Framework

OBI's underlying design relies on the notion that buying organizations are responsible for the profiles of those who request goods and services, accounting procedures, tax status information, and internal approval processes. Selling organizations are responsible for electronic catalogs, pricing, order entry and fulfillment systems, and inventory systems. Rather than require the selling organization to maintain profile data on potentially thousands of different buyers, OBI requires the use of authentication digital certificates that store those unique user profiles. These digital certificates, based on the X.509 Version 3 standard for digital certificates, are used to authenticate buyers, describe their roles and permissions within the buying organization, and offer selling organizations the highest level of assurance that they're dealing with whom they think they're dealing. These certificates also benefit sellers by helping them test the integrity of purchase order information through its signing by the digital certificate's cryptography.

Where the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) Standard governs the security of credit-card presentation and authorization usage over the Internet, it does not govern any of the processing or customization of the user's "shopping experience", which OBI does. OBI's intent is not to standardize the payment methods in use, but it does support the use of SET for actual payment (using SET digital certificates), as well as any other means as specified by the "Payment Authority" established by the OBI Standard within each buying organization.

Comments are welcome

All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices.
Created: Dec. 17, 1997
Revised: Dec. 17, 1997