This document is the architecture vision statement of the W3C Web Payments Interest Group. It describes the principles upon which a Web Payments architecture should be built.
This document represents the consensus of the Web Payments Interest Group as of the publication date of this document. See the 28 May 2015 Call for Consensus.
Previous versions of this document were maintained on the group's wiki.
Any architecture grounded in the Web should respect well-known Web principles such as:
In addition to the priciples above, the following are desirable properties specific to a Web payments architecture:
It is consistent with the purpose of the Web to enable payees to receive payments, and payers to pay, using their preferred payment instruments and payment schemes. The Web payments architecture must not restrict these choices but rather foster transparency of choices available.
We want to improve the user experience in a variety of ways. These include reducing the need to provide data as part of a transaction (helpful on mobile in particular), simplifying payment user interfaces and interactions, standardizing the payment flow across all Web applications, and making it easier to make payments from a wide range of devices, such as computers, portable devices, televisions, eBooks, and automobiles.
Taken together, we expect these improvements will lower the rate of "cart abandonment" and increase the velocity of payments made over the Web.
Trust in Web payments is critical to their widespread adoption. Because of this the architecture must provide the ability for participants in the payment process to confidently, securely and accurately identify and connect to other participants that are party to the payment.
The architecture should not disclose private details of the participants identity or other sensitive information as part of the payment process unless required by operational, legal or jurisdictional rules, or when deliberately consented to (e.g. as part of a loyalty program) by the owner of the information.
The Web payments architecture should make this easy by standardizing the mechanisms available to issue, exchange and verify credentials as part of a payment transaction, as well as a secure mechanism for the exchange of identity information when it is explicitly required as part of a payment. To accomplish this, it is expected that the architecture will also need to support an evolving variety of authentication and identification techniques (e.g. multifactor, biometric, etc.) which can be used independent of or in concert with a participants identity data.
In order to achieve this, we anticipate that the architecture will be:
Different payment schemes move value at different speeds. The Web payments architecture should not impose additional delays, so that payment information circulates as efficiently as possible and the final settlement (exchange of value) is done as quickly as possible.
The Web is a global system which must operate across many legal and regulatory jurisdictions. While there are common requirements across jurisdictions, it is not cost-effective to create a single system that satisfies all legal and regulatory obligations in all jurisdictions.
As a result, a successful architecture for payments on the web will account for variability with regard to legal and regulatory frameworks it can support. The group envisions an extensible set of 'hooks' that enable participant-authorized parties to comply with legal and regulatory requirements in different jurisdictions in a secure and more standard manner.
We believe the industry will benefit from standards that lower the cost (e.g. through automation) of addressing needs related to Know Your Customer, Anti-Money Laundering, and other requirements related to due diligence and customer identity.
Web developers will be able to integrate payments smoothly into a variety of user experiences on the Web, including in-app payments, downloads, and subscriptions. This is key to opening up new revenue generating opportunities on the Web that were not previously viable due to the costs incurred and poor user experiences required in processing payments.
The Web will ultimately serve as a bridge between open and closed value exchange networks, enabling interoperable value exchange. This will enable both payers and payees to seamlessly make payments using a variety of previously non-interoperable payment instruments.
The editors wish to thank the participants of the Web Payments Interest Group for discussions about and contributions to this document, as well as the Web Payments Community Group for earlier work that informed this document.