What's the Latest Development?
The Web Payments group, an organization affiliated with (but not endorsed by) the Web standards body W3C, is developing a money exchange protocol similar to that used for e-mails. An open standard, if accepted, would allow companies to add payment functionality to their browsers directly, making it much easier for users to send, receive, and transfer funds. "Just as anyone can send an e-mail, anyone using software based on the payments protocol would be able to exchange money for free." The group consists of representatives from companies such as Opera as well as from academia.
What's the Big Idea?
Web Payments' focus has largely been on ways to make it easier for micropayments to be paid for online content. Traditional online banking sites such as PayPal probably wouldn't be open to the idea of a site-independent protocol, but group member Manu Sporny says that with enough momentum, it could follow the path of acceptance that other open Web standards have experienced over time. Next month, Sporny's own startup, Digital Bazaar, is scheduled to roll out a system called PaySwarm that could represent a first shot at this new economic landscape.
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