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One-click buying is about to go web-wide

Efforts to create a global standard for one-click buying across the web have reached a new milestone. The internet’s governing body World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and online giants including Google, Apple, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent met in Portugal last week to finalise an agreement that will provide a uniform way for shoppers to input their payment details to any web browser for any online purchase, according to the New York Times.

It’s like auto-fill, but it happens invisibly and internet-wide. After a person’s payment details are entered once, they can be called up to complete any online payment form with one click. As a security measure, the browser generates a single use token to authorise payment, rather than sending all the card details.

Google has already introduced the one-click standard in certain new versions of Chrome, and other web browsers have said they will do the same in the near future. While W3C has managed to involve around 40 major players in the agreement, some big names – like Amazon and PayPal – are notably absent.

Amazon introduced one-click purchasing on its website in 2000 and gained business and fees with its streamlined checkout process. It’s unlikely to let an external party take over this step of the checkout process now. Meanwhile, PayPal built its entire business around simplifying online payments, so a global standard that proposes to do the same represents a direct challenge.

But even if some major organisations don’t adopt the new standard, it may still succeed. Electronic payments consultant Dave Birch told the New York Times that most online merchants are ready for a simpler payment system, thanks to the high rate of abandoned online transactions and frequency of credit card fraud. They see one-click buying as a way to counteract these problems.

Shopify, which manages the online stores and checkout processes for 300,000 merchants, said it will offer the new standard to its merchants immediately.

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