The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has launched the Web Payments Working Group to help streamline the online “check-out” process and make payments easier and more secure on the Web.
The proposed standards will support a wide array of existing and future payment methods,
including debit, credit, mobile payment systems, escrow, and bitcoin and other distributed ledger technologies. Standardized APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) will establish a foundation for simplified checkout and payment experience, greater transaction security, automated secure payments, and more payment options for merchants and users alike.
These APIs will allow users to register payment instruments (such as credit cards or payment services) and select the right payment type through the browser, making payments faster, more secure, and easier, particularly on mobile devices. The standards should also make it easier for Web developers to integrate existing and new payment flows into their applications.
“The industry has looked to digital wallets as a way to improve security and usability, as well as to support marketing initiatives. And yet, users have not yet wholeheartedly embraced them,” said W3C CEO Dr. Jeff Jaffe. “We believe that one reason for this is that the digital wallet market is fragmented and providers use incompatible programming interfaces. The proposed standards from W3C will help ensure interoperability of different solutions by standardizing the programming interfaces. So when you buy something, you should have a standard way to match the payment instruments you have with the ones accepted by the merchant, in a way that integrates smoothly with the merchant’s checkout flow.”
Research from companies such as Business Insider confirms the diverse reasons why, on average, people do not complete online purchases 68% of the time. W3C Web Payments standards can help some of the issues related to shopping cart abandonment regarding usability and security, through standard messages and message flow for the initiation, confirmation, and completion of payments. With support from these APIs, users will choose a preferred payment instrument for a particular transaction, and the messages between Web application and payment service providers will be mediated by the browser on the user’s behalf.
“It is challenging today for merchants to offer new payment options to consumers because of the many proprietary solutions and number of different APIs that they have to deal with,” commented Mark Horwedel, CEO, Merchant Advisory Group (MAG). “Open standards from W3C will help payment providers and merchants lower costs of payment management, improve consumer choice and transparency, and create new opportunities to introduce value-added services. These standard APIs will also give us a foundation for future Web payments capabilities.”
The charter (and supporting FAQ) for this new Web Payments Working Group were drafted by the W3C Web Payments Interest Group, whose participants include technical representatives from banks, payment service providers, merchants, browser makers, hardware providers, and other industry stakeholders. The new Web Payments Working Group will meet face-to-face for the first time during W3C’s Technical Plenary week under the leadership of co-chairs Adrian Hope-Bailie (Ripple) and Nick Telford-Reed (Worldpay). W3C technical staff contacts for the Web Payments Working Group are Ian Jacobs and Doug Schepers.
The Web Payments Interest Group, under the leadership of co-chairs Erik Anderson (Bloomberg) and David Ezell (NACS), will continue to identify additional areas for future standardization.
Work on payments at W3C was supported in part by the European Union through the HTML5Apps project.
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