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 st...