The payments industry is changing rapidly: on the one hand, existing mechanics are being reworked to embrace new use cases, while on the other new technologies such as tokenization and mobile payments are emerging. Industry professionals are beginning to recognize the importance of the work of the Web Payments groups at W3C. While electronic payments are certainly not a new thing, Web Payments is being recognized as part of the overall payments processing standards picture.
Understanding between established payments groups and the W3C payments groups is important. Targeting our payments colleagues in the United States, the X9: August Newsletter features a discussion of W3C and a very broad picture of what Web Payments is about. And for those of us in W3C, the newsletter also gives a synopsis of ongoing X9 activities in both the payments and near-payments space.
X9 is the accredited group from the United States that provides representatives to the International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO has been establishing standards and practices in payments for decades, for example ISO20022, ISO8583, and more recently ISO12812 (Summary by Alan Thiemann).
The Web Payments Interest Group met at MIT on July 1, 2016, discussing near-term opportunities for standardization, moving important new work forward and reviewing exciting future possibilities and challenges in the world of Web Payments.
The Mission of the Web Payments IG is to perform a steering function for Web Payments at W3C. The IG helps identify standardization opportunities to improve payments on the Web. One way that it does so it by helping to identify standardization work that will improve e-commerce for all users and stakeholders, particularly buyers and sellers in payment transactions. To this end, the IG tracks industry trends and standards, and identifies new potential work from emerging requirements.
Some of the highlights of our discussions at MIT:
- Blockchains and related topics from the “Blockchains and the Web” workshop that took place the day before the IG meeting. Although the Blockchain Workshop agenda did not focus on payments use cases, the IG has discussed blockchains previously and discussed potential overlap with other user cases.
- An Interledger Payments (ILP) Community Group report provided the Interest Group with an update about the CG’s progress in developing a protocol to facilitate payments across disparate payment systems.
- Digital Offers have gained new focus from IG membership. From a merchant perspective, digital offers are an important marketing aspect for any payment system. We heard about use cases from the retail industry, as well as work already underway on digital offers in the “mobile space.” The IG decided to form a task force that includes additional industry experts to: 1) consider additional use cases and 2) potentially charter a Community Group to further incubate the ideas, attempting to identify commonalities and synergies between payments and digital offers that can lead to further standardization.
- Verifiable Claims has been one of the most active work items on the IG’s agenda. The Verifiable Claims Task Force presented their findings: W3C management should consider taking this work to the W3C Membership as a proposal for a Working Group. The task force’s supporting work includes use cases, a proposed data model plus a high-level architecture, a “primer”, a FAQ, commitments to the work, and a draft charter for the proposed Working Group. The Interest Group accepted the findings of the task force, and resolved to request that W3C management propose a draft charter to the Membership.
- We discussed improving the Interest Group’s process of transitioning technologies from discovery to incubation to standardization. The group’s focus was on making the process more effective and responsive to the needs of our membership.
In addition to these topics, the chairs shared the results of IG input which showed continued interest in a number of areas, including:
- Making sure security/identity practices on the Web fulfill the needs of payment. The approval of the Verifiable Claims work is one indicator of this interest. While any standardization work would probably be done in other segments of the W3C, the IG has indicated a continuing wish to stay focused and knowledgeable, contributing when necessary.
- Investigate further additional topics such as micropayments, B2B, and M2M payments.
- Monitoring of industry regulatory requirements such as PSD2 (Europe).
- Monitoring the work of related payment standards such as ISO20022 and ISO12812, including discussions of terminology alignment.
The Interest Group welcomes new participants to ensure that we are representing diverse industry and regional needs. Our next face-to-face meeting will take place in Lisbon 22-23 September during W3C’s TPAC. Face-to-face meetings are a great opportunity to get involved, so please contact the W3C staff if you are interested. If the logistics allow, we hope to see you there!