The API Watch: Ecommerce Checkout Standards from the W3C

Successful Internet retailers know that what happens in the digital check-out lane can make or break the ecommerce experience. The problem is that there are many ways to ensure both usability and security, and it's caused a virtual mess for merchants, payment processors as well as consumers.

Last week, however, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launched its Web Payments Working Group in an attempt to help streamline the online "check-out" process and make payments easier and more secure on the Web. The W3C aims to do that by proposing standards and making recommendations that will address the fragmentation of the payment landscape, the poor quality of checkout experiences (particularly on mobile devices), shopping cart abandonment, as well as transaction security.

"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."