The World Wide Web reaches 3 billion people today and will reach 6 billion people by the year 2020. It has vastly increased access to information and education. However, these advances have not yet translated into the ability to financially transact with anyone in the world with the same ubiquity and ease as sending and receiving a message via the Web.
The Web connected fragmented documentation systems with a common set of standards. Today’s systems of value exchange lack a set of common standards, and are still proprietary, disconnected, and opaque.
The W3C Web Payments Interest Group is developing a roadmap for standards to improve the interoperability of payments using Web technologies for both online and brick-and-mortar (offline) scenarios. The group's vision will help achieve greater interoperability among merchants and their customers, payment providers, software vendors, mobile operators, native mobile apps, and payment networks. Realizing this vision will have profound and far reaching economic and social impacts related to increased choice, reduced costs, financial inclusion, fair competition, greater security, rapid innovation cycles, and overall economic efficiency.
Benefits for Customers
We want to make it much easier to use one's preferred payment instruments with any merchant, on any device. Standards will give customers more options to pay both by fostering innovation and by making it easier to adopt a wider variety of payment solutions. We anticipate that customers will be able to make payments more quickly, and more securely. We will see greater consistency in ecommerce solutions across merchants, platforms, and devices. A standard payments framework for the Web will support existing and new payment methods. Extending the current financial system to include unbanked and underbanked will also improve the financial health of those individuals and lead to long-term societal improvement.
- Increased choice. We seek to enable people to pay with their preferred payment instruments (that are also accepted by merchants) and to increase the choice of payment instruments available to customers.
- Improved experience. We want to improve the customer experience in a variety of ways. These include reducing the need to provide data as part of a transaction (helpful on mobile in particular), simplifying payment interfaces, harmonizing checkout experience across ecommerce sites, and making it easier to make payments from a wide range of devices, such as computers, portable devices, televisions, eBooks, and automobiles.
- Greater security. We seek to increase confidence in the Web as a platform for conveniently and securely conducting financial transactions. By improving Web security and fostering an ecosystem that makes it easy to integrate more secure payment instruments, we expect to see a major reduction in payments transaction fraud (such as stolen card numbers or compromised virtual currency wallets). We are interested in approaches (such as tokenization) that reduce the need for customers to share sensitive data with merchants or other parties, at the same time as we want to make payments a seamless experience.
- Privacy Enhancing.
- Innovation. Standards generally lower barriers to entry and foster innovation. The framework should enable providers to develop new services (e.g., discounts, coupons, context-sensitive offers) and customise and extend existing services to match their needs on top of standard protocols and formats. These standards should also encourage innovation in emerging areas such as payments in automotive settings and the Internet of Things.
- Lower Costs. Standard APIs and data formats should lower the cost of providing and adopting new payment solutions, and in changing payment providers.
- Transparency. The framework should enable the parties in a transaction to understand the costs of a transaction (e.g. exchange, handling fees, taxes, etc.) and what (personal) data is going to be exchanged or was exchanged and created in hindsight.
- Automatability. A standard framework should enable automatic payments to be made and understood by individuals and organizations, but also the software and devices to which they have delegated authority. For instance, it should be possible to authorize a car to pay for road tolls and parking up to a certain limit without needing constant confirmation. Machine-readable data plays a role in automatability.
- Portability. Customers and merchants should be able to port money and data easily from one system to another - whether moving a list of regular bills to be paid between payment systems, or getting cash in exchange for credit in a particular system.
Joining the Work
The official work started in 2015 and is expected to produce the first set of standards by 2017. The time to join the work is now.
To participate in the work:
- Join the Web Payments Interest Group