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.
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 information for bitcoin, ether and other 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.
With that potential new functionality, Ian Jacobs, head of the W3C's payments activity, said now is 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 th...