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W3C开发兼容加密货币的支付API,支持多种浏览器

最近,在微软、谷歌、Facebook、苹果和Mozilla的帮助下,万维网联盟(W3C)开始了一项全新的浏览器API开发,这种API可能会让用户更便捷地使用加密货币购买商品和服务。随着比特币和其他加密货币获得更多的发展,加密货币的支付作用也越来越受到认可。

W3C在过去几年里对区块链技术的兴趣越来越高,并且于去年6月份举办首届区块链专题研讨会。但是尽管参与者表示有兴趣实现区块链技术使用的标准化和民主化,不过并没有达成任何真正的正式协作协议。然而,如今这已经发生了变化。

当激活时,这个支付请求API(Payment Request API)将会允许新的支付类型,包括比特币、以太坊以及其他所有可用的加密货币(以及更加传统的在线支付方式)直接被存储在浏览器中。消费者可以从一个可用支付方式的下拉菜单中进行选择,这是一种在结账中广泛实现的自动填充功能扩展。

W3C的标准化工作可以说是出了名的缓慢,从社区工作组到兴趣小组再到工作组这项推进可能会耗费数年时间,这也是加密货币企业对加入这个团体感到犹豫不决的原因之一。

但是前方的发展道路并不像听起来那么容易。比如,商家需要整合这个API并挑选他们想要接受的支付方式。在这个阶段,消费者将需要下载浏览器扩展程序并选择想要使用的支付方式。换句话说,商家需要创建承认这些新的支付方式的网站,而用户需要拥有支持这些正在编写的协议的钱包。通过这种方式,这个生态系统将商家和用户结合到一起。”

目前,W3C已经正在与第三方支付app合作使用了一种能够被商家和消费者理解的方式,希望借此将加密货币和非信用卡支付方式整合到这个API中。

Web Payment Working Group下一次关于这个浏览器API的面对面会议计划在11月6到7日进行,并计划在10月23日演示Airbnb、谷歌和MasterCard如何正在使用这个API。

 

Developers at some of the top tech companies have created a browser API that could soon make it easier to buy goods and services online with cryptocurrency.

The work, started by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the help of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Mozilla, is a tangible step forward for a currency-agnostic web payment standard first conceived in 2013. Equally, as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies gain more momentum, the launch signifies the growing recognition of cryptocurrency as a payments technology.

Indeed, the W3C has gotten more interested in blockchain technologies over the years, hosting its first ever blockchain workshop in June last year. But while participants were left with interest in standardizing and democratizing the technology's use, no formal work was decided upon then. That, however, has changed.

Announced on Thursday, the API is currently being implemented in browsers including Google's Chrome, Microsoft's Edge, Apple’s Webkit, Mozilla’s Firefox, the Samsung Internet Browser and Facebook's in-app browser. When activated, the Payment Request API will allow new payment types, including bitcoin, ether any any other available cryptocurrency (as well as more traditional online payment methods) to be stored directly in the browser.

Consumers will then be able to choose from a drop-down menu of available payment methods supported, a kind of expansion on the auto-fill feature already widely enabled at checkout.

And with that, Ian Jacobs, head of the W3C's payments activity, said now's a good time for developers to start writing code for payment methods they'd like to see available.

In an exclusive interview, Jacobs told CoinDesk:

"This is a great opportunity for people to start writing blockchain-based payment method descriptions and to try to test the API. That's sort of the period that we're in, the test and interoperability development phase."

A stable state

The API, and the W3C's call for the "broad implementation" of it, is based on what the group sees as a way to offer consumers more payment options and merchants a more secure online checkout.

As part of that growth, the WebKit browser engine that powers Safari and Apple’s App store earlier this month moved the status of its work from "under consideration" to "in development," though other more advanced stages still lie ahead.

"The specification has matured enough within the W3C process that we’ve moved from draft state to stable state," said Jacobs, who added:

"And that means, now we know what the API is going to do, and we are building test suites and working on browser interoperability so the implementations are secure and they behave the same way."

The W3C's standardization efforts are notoriously slow moving, with work advancing from community groups to interest groups to working groups, all of which can take years. This is one of the reasons cryptocurrency entrepreneurs have been hesitant to join the group's ranks, even though the Tim Berners-Lee created consortium has quite the reputation.

Not so fast

But, the process ahead isn't as easy as it sounds.

Jacobs compared the next steps to matchmaking, where merchants will need to integrate the API and pick which payment methods they want to accept. At this stage, customers will need to download the browser extension and signal what payment methods they use.

In other words, merchants need to build websites that acknowledge the new payment methods, while users need to have wallets that "speak the protocol that were writing," Jacobs said. "That’s how the ecosystem pieces together the merchant-side and the user-side."

The W3C is already working with third-party payments apps to integrate both cryptocurrency and non-credit card forms of payment into the API in a way that can be interpreted by merchants and consumers.

"So, for example, you might identify a particular bitcoin payment method with a URL, and then people can distribute payment apps that declare their support for that payment method," Jacobs said.

The Web Payment Working Group’s next face-to-face meeting on the browser-based API is scheduled for November 6 and 7, with a demo scheduled to take place on October 23 to show how Airbnb, Google and Mastercard are using the API.

Jacobs, optimistic about the recent step forward, concluded:

"You will begin to see early adopters of the API using it and you will see an increase in browser support over time that I’m hoping by the middle of next year it’s widely deployed."


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