Is it time for open standards for web payments?

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On native app stores, developers find it comparatively easy to bill users, either when they first install the app, or later with in-app billing for digital content. For web apps, developers are faced with a plethora of proprietary solutions often with a clumsy user experience, and to make matters worse, ads, the mainstay of desktop apps, don't work as well on mobile. Is it now time to consider work on standard ways to transfer money, demonstrate proof-of-purchase, and meet other payment needs?

As part of the headlights 2013 exercise, W3C is now conducting a study with a view to gaining a better understanding about the potential for open standards for web payments. We plan to report back to the W3C Advisory Committee in June/July, and will probably follow up with a workshop later this year.

We expect to collect information on the payments task force wiki and to prepare a questionnaire for web developers, as well as to seek input from a broad range of stakeholders. At this point, it tentatively looks like we need an API that is payment solution neutral, and as such can be built on top of existing (or new) payment technologies. In principle, this should allow for such things as proof of purchase, pre-paid vouchers, discount coupons, NFC for touch based payments, person to person payments, offline payments and so forth. The scope of any standards work that may follow is likely to start with a narrow focus, but it is valuable to get a broader understanding of the potential.

The Web Payments Task Force is open to all, and we invite help from people with relevant expertise and an interest in realizing open standards for web payments. We're interested in help in understanding the ecosystem, figuring the best way to reach out to developer's and other key ecosystem stakeholders, and to provide insightful analysis on the path forward. If you want to contribute, please subscribe to the mailing list, and help us to gather information and organize it on the wiki.

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