Payments Task Force
What do people want? What can W3C practically achieve? Who would work with W3C to drive this forward?
Web application developers want to monetise their work, particularly on mobile where ads are not as effective as on desktop. The Open Web Platform does not yet offer standard ways to transfer money, demonstrate proof-of-purchase, and meet other payment needs. Without a standard, developers are forced to turn to native platforms, or use solutions that work for one service provide but not another.
What are the opportunities and challenges for Web based payments? Can we provide a means whereby users have a free choice in which means of payment they want to use in any given situation? What is the relationship to eWallets that reside in your phone or in the cloud? How can we enable valued added third party services?
There was a headlights initiative on this in 2012, as well as a Community Group looking at a particular approach. The W3C staff believes that the platform and industry have evolved in the past year to the point where we need to revisit the question as a community.
- 1 Draft plan of action
- 2 How to get involved
- 3 Scope
- 4 Payments and Web Intents
- 5 The Future of Money
- 6 Complementary standards for value added 3rd party services
- 7 Brief survey of existing payment services
- 8 Using your phone in place of a ticket
- 9 Money transfer for the unbanked
- 10 2011 W3C Web Payments Community Group
Draft plan of action
- Solicit feedback from the W3C Advisory Committee
- W3C Blog on the 2013 web payments initiative
- Questionnaire aimed at developers to assess their needs
- Direct contact with key stakeholder groups (who?)
- Web Payment workshop in late 2013 when we have clarified the scope
- Public Report
The process will be a 4 or 5 month exercise culminating in a presentation at the Tokyo AC meeting in June. The aim is to reprioritize W3C resources to ensure we remain relevant to our mission to lead the Web to its full potential.
How to get involved
Please subscribe to the public mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org. See the link on that page for details. If you already have a W3C Account, you will also be able to edit this wiki. To get a W3C account, fill out the account request form.
In case of further questions, please contact the following:
- Dave Raggett <email@example.com>
Note: anyone making a substantive contribution to W3C specifications on the Recommendation track will be required to commit to the requirements of the W3C Patent Policy.
See also Team only wiki
What is the scope for web payments? Here are some ideas for consideration:
- Online payments to a website, or web app developer
- Small payments as part of a prior arrangement
- Offline payments, that can be redeemed when you go online
- Payments via tapping your device against another
- Person to person payments
- Use of community based currencies
- Use of third parties as means to bridge gaps, e.g. currency conversion and different kinds of payment systems
- Proof of purchase
- Support for holding payments in escrow pending completion of transaction
- Secure means to track your payments
- Relationship of payments to systems of identifiers (people, organizations, currencies, etc.)
- Anonymous payments
Payments and Web Intents
Web Intents provides a mechanism whereby the user can select which provider to pass to a web page requesting a given intent. This breaks free of the current practice of hard wiring the web page to specific providers. There are multiple solutions for Web-based payments, and users should be given the choice of selecting the means of payment that best suits them in the current situation. Web Intents has the further benefit of minimizing the information disclosed to the Web Application, which only sees the payment solution provider chosen by the user, and doesn't get to find out just which set of credit cards etc. the user has in her wallet.
Some measure of privacy is given by existing payment solutions where the Web application makes use of a third party to perform the secure payment transaction, and doesn't get to know the number of the credit card used (as an example). Web Intents improves on this by avoiding the need for Web applications to have a fixed connection to such third parties.
Open standards for Web payment APIs
Call for Implementations
To get the ball rolling, we need volunteers to work on experimental implementations that extend web browsers to support a variety of payment solutions via Web Intents.
The Future of Money
David Birch has some interesting observations:
- David Birch 24 November 2011, http://www.thersa.org/
- David Birch 23 February 2012, http://liftconference.com/
In essence, we are still using industrial era money in the post industrial age. The mobile phone is truly disruptive and is likely to displace cash and replace it by many kinds of money. Innovation will come from entrepreneurs and not from governments. Putting virtual replicas of plastic credit and debit cards into phones isn't sufficient, as it needs to be really easy to pay anyone either face to face or across the other side of the World. Once that is realized we can expect to see the flourishing of community based virtual currencies together with accompanying systems of exchanges between different currencies. Some examples of existing community currencies include Second Life's Linden Dollars, and Facebook Credits.
What does this mean for W3C? There won't be one payment system, instead, there will be many, along with many currencies, most of which will be purely virtual. It may be practical to create standards that abstract away from the differences, making it easy for developers to accept payments in a variety of currencies. Lower level standard will also be important, e.g. access to secure elements such as SIM cards, emulation of smart cards for touch based payments and so forth. Payment solutions will need to support offline payments when you want to pay someone, but don't have network coverage.
Complementary standards for value added 3rd party services
Why would you bother with an eWallet in your mobile phone when you can pay with a regular debit or credit card? For people to switch, there needs to be a compelling value proposition. A frequently cited benefit is a painless approach to discount coupons, such as those commonly delivered to your door as paper spam. Having to sort out these coupons and stuff them into your already bulging wallet, then pull out the right one at the checkout stand is a pain for customers and checkout staff alike. With an eWallet in your phone, you could scan in printed QRCodes on advertisments, or easier still automatically add the eCoupons when tapping on NFC tags on other products.
Bar codes (including QRCodes) requires you to load the appropriate app on your phone and to line up the camera to make the scan. By comparison, NFC tags offer a much better user experience, as you just need to tap your phone against the tag, and the appropriate application is launched automatically. NFC tags could enable a wide range of value added third party services, for example, here are just a few ideas:
- instantly check if the food item you are buying would trigger any of the allergies for your or your family members
- at the same time get advice on alternative products that would be safe
- get menu suggestions and a list of where to get the ingredients
- get reports on your eating habits and suggestions for improvements - this would be based on signing up with a third party who would aggregate your purchases and provide a monthly report
- get independent reviews of a product and suggestions for alternatives
- get price comparisons with other stores, and painlessly contribute to those comparisons
- get information on the provenance of products and how they were produced, e.g. is this item produced in an sustainable way and were the workers paid at equitable rates?
- for clothing, get fashion tips on which other items would form a good outfit
- get regular assessment of your family expenditure after having signed up with a third party, who could offer advice on healthier and cheaper choices for stretching your budget
- get instant notifications of which of your friends bought this or a similar product
Some valued added third party services will involve a business relationship between the merchant selling the product and the third party. Other such services could be based upon open standards, e.g. for naming products and providing access to information about them.
Some of these use cases can be addressed through an API for Web applications to read data off NFC tags. Others necessitate open standards for the information involved, e.g. for ingredients, provenance, washing instructions, and for adding a discount coupon to your eWallet.
- See W3C NFC wiki for further background on NFC tags, use cases, and Web APIs
Brief survey of existing payment services
Debit payments are possible where an account is prefilled and drawn down for each transaction. The account could be your bank account, or it could be a separate account that you fill with you regular credit or debit card. Another approach aggregates your transactions subject to some overall limit and requires you to settle in full or in part at the end of the month.
please add to this list and amend as appropriate
- Western Union - person to person transfers settled online through a user's debit or credit card or through cash payments at Western Union outlets
- PayPal - online payment service settled through a user's debit or credit card
- Paypal Here - dongle converts phones into wireless card swipe reader for card payments
- Square - dongle converts phones and tablets into wireless card swipe reader for card payments, "Pay with square" - pay without even touching your phone, merchant automatically opens your tab as you walk in the door, and at checkout time, confirms your identity by your name and photo. How does the merchant sense your presence (WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, explicit Web notification)?
- Verifone SAIL - dongle converts phones and tablets into wireless card swipe reader for card payments
- Flint - use the phone's camera to read your debit or credit card, and enter card verification information
- V.me - enter your email address and password at checkout as a proxy for swiping your Visa debit or credit card, in addition, support for NFC payments from your phone with the V.me account
- Paypass - NFC payment solution for Mastercard NFC enabled debit or credit cards, and now from your phone with the PayPass wallet
- Project Oscar - mobile wallet with payment via the mobile network or via NFC - joint venture between Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere (parent company of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK)
- Isis - mobile wallet with payment via NFC at any Isis Ready merchant.
- Google Wallet - mobile wallet with payment from your phone via NFC at PayPass enabled terminals
- LevelUp - mobile display or printed card with QRCode as a proxy for the user's debit or credit card
- GSMA OneAPI - HTTP based network payment protocol aimed at mobile operators
- Bitcoin - a decentralized electronic cash system based upon cryptographic tokens with a peer to peer solution for managing anonymous transactions and minting tokens. Bitcoin is the first digital currency that avoids the need for trusted intermediaries to prevent double spending. This makes it hard to regulate, and Bitcoin has gained notoriety through its use for shady transactions. Arstechnica report: Bitcoin: inside the encrypted, peer-to-peer digital currency.
Some more experimental approaches:
- Flattr - prepay service for making payments to sites displaying Flattr button, where your monthly spend is divided amongst the sites where you clicked the button
- PaySwarm - micropayment solution that splits payments across people listed in a PaySwarm digital contract
- WebCredits - simple system for storing and transferring IOUs (credits) between agents
- OpenTransact - HTTP based payment protocol
- IFEX - protocol designed to facilitate the negotiation of financial transactions between internet-based financial endpoints
- Ripple - credit based solution where commitments to pay ("IOUs") are exchanged along trust chains
- Opentabs - credit based solution involving settlements of cryptographically signed open tabs ("IOUs")
- webinos payment API from the webinos research project. It is not linked to a specific payment service provider and is designed to be sufficiently generic to be mapable to various payment services like GSMA OneAPI, BlueVia, Android Payment API or PayPal.
Using your phone in place of a ticket
Purchase a ticket online and present your phone at the turnstile to gain entrance, using either a 2D barcode or NFC. Buy a ticket for a friend and transfer it to her by tapping her phone. This approach has also been applied to airline boarding passes, avoiding the need for printing or collecting a paper version of the boarding pass.
Money transfer for the unbanked
People without bank accounts often own mobile phones. Network operators have created solutions for person to person transfers between phones. These are popular in the developing world. Few facts:
- GSMA and McKinsey & Company: estimated that 45 million unbanked people were using mobile money in 2009, expected to reach 360 million by 2012
- According to Juniper, there were around 100 million active users of mobile money services worldwide in February 2011, a figure they projected to rise to more than 200 million in 2013
- Berg Insight reckoned that there were 133 million mobile money users in emerging markets in 2010 and forecast that that number would increase to 709 million by 2015
- Most succesfull service is  mPesa in Kenya
- Each operator has also its own payment system based on the same model (SMS/USSD)
- GSMA maintains a site with all mobile money deployment
2011 W3C Web Payments Community Group
A Web Payments CG which was set up in 2011 by Manu Sporny. Its stated aim:
The purpose of the Web Payments Community Group is to discuss, research,
prototype, and create working systems that enable Universal Payment for the Web. The goal is to create a safe, decentralized system and a set of open, patent and royalty-free specifications that allow people on the Web to send each other money as easily as they exchange instant messages and e-mail today. The group will focus on transforming the way we reward each other on the Web as well as how we organize financial resources to enhance our personal lives and pursue endeavors that improve upon thehuman condition.