The Bank of China (BOC) has launched a cybermall which boasts superior security technology to protect shoppers' credit-card numbers. The 'BOC Group In Town' Internet shopping mall uses an SET (Secure Electronic Transaction) service run by BOC. This lets BOC verify credit-card numbers and the customer's identity on behalf of its merchants. The customer's financial data also need not be disclosed to the merchant, unlike a more popular security technology called SSL. BOC then takes a cut of 2-3 per cent from each purchase as a handling fee. So far BOC's mall only has six shops from which consumers, who must possess a BOC credit card, can buy goods. BOC said a total of 20 shops would be on-line soon. There are 500,000 BOC credit-card users in the SAR. Two years of annual fees are being waived to encourage non card-holders to apply for a special BOC Internet credit card. There are a number of cybermalls already in Hong Kong. Hongkong Telecom IMS' Netvigator mall boasts 35 shops, with a small number able to offer SET transactions. Most of the other malls only host a handful of shops each. Aeonworld, backed by local credit-card vendor Aeon, is an example. The first cybermall to launch back in April 1997, Aeonworld hosts four shops. BOC officials said the slow local uptake in Internet shopping was due to customers' concerns about Internet security, a problem they feel they have solved. Other malls 'haven't been successful because they didn't have SET', Wendy Mui, deputy general manager of BOC Credit Card International, said.