W3C payments group publishes first draft specs

Source: Web Payments Working Group

The mission of the Web Payments Working Group is to make payments easier and more secure on the Web. Today the Web Payments Working Group published first drafts of specifications in pursuit of this mission

  •  Payment Request API: This specification describes a web API to allow merchants (i.e., web sites selling physical or digital goods) to easily accept payments from different payment methods with minimal integration. User agents (e.g. browsers) will facilitate the payment flow between merchant and user.
  • Payment Method Identifiers: This document defines payment method identifier strings so that components in the payment ecosystem can determine which parties support which payment methods.
  • Basic Card Payment: This specification describes the data formats used by the Payment Request API to support payment by payment cards such as credit or debit cards.

We have also published a FAQ today, and will update it as we receive questions from the community.

Although the Web Payments Working Group has begun to discuss payment application registration, we have not yet adopted a specification for this important piece of the Payment Request API suite (though there is an early proposal).

Together, these specifications will help streamline checkout in Web sites and applications. The Working Group is revising a description of how the pieces fit together and I anticipate an updated “overview” soon.

Important: These are early, incomplete drafts! We recognize that people not previously involved with W3C may be accustomed to specifications being more “mature” when they are first made public. In the W3C Process, “First Public Working Draft” does not mean that the specifications are publicly available for the first time; Editors’ Drafts are always public. Rather, it is a call for early review by the Working Group to the broader community.

In addition to hearing general feedback such as “yes, this seems like a useful overall direction” the group has a number of specific issues where we would like input, covering topics including:

  • Extensibility and versioning
  • Security and Privacy
  • How much functionality to include in the API

Issues are sprinkled throughout the documents and are being managed in the group’s issues lists (one general, and one specific to these documents). As you read the documents, we invite your comments on the issues, or you may wish to raise new issues. Please see the status section of each specification for information about how to provide feedback.

After First Public Working Draft, the Editors will incorporate Working Group resolutions into the evolving Editors’ Drafts.

In parallel, we are also studying in detail how the API will be used to addressed common payment methods. The Working Group is documenting “real-world” payment flows for payment methods such as credit cards, credit cards with 3DS, tokenized cards, SEPA credit transfers, Bitcoin, Alipay, and others. For each flow, the group expects to show how the Payment Request API fits into these payment flows. We also expect this detailed investigation to inform developer guidance on how to use the API in different scenarios and how to plan corresponding payment apps. We also expect the flows will inform our test suite development.

We welcome assistance from the community to help us document common payment flows, both those we have started to analyze and any others you feel we should address. Please see the flows home page if you wish to help.

The Working Group is currently focused on advancing the Payment Request API suite, but is also chartered to facilitate payments outside of the browser (e.g., via an HTTP API). We expect to turn our attention to that work shortly.

Today’s publications represent an important milestone for the Working Group, but we have a lot more to do to develop, test, and deploy the new API. We welcome your feedback and your help in our effort to make Web payments easier and more secure.

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