Definition: First Virtual
A pioneer in digital money, founded in 1994 by First Virtual Holdings, Inc., San Diego, CA. As the first online payment company, customers had to establish an account with First Virtual using a credit card. To make an online purchase, the customers sent their First Virtual ID number to the participating vendor, who in turn emailed First Virtual and the customer for confirmation. The money was then transferred to the vendor via the Automated Clearing House (ACH).
In 1998, First Virtual exited the online payments business to concentrate on email services and Internet messaging. The company's e-commerce merchants and relationships were inherited by CyberCash, its former rival, which lasted until bankruptcy trouble in 2001 and was acquired by VeriSign, Inc. The messaging solutions part of First Virtual was renamed MessageMedia, Inc., which DoubleClick acquired in 2002.