The Press did not talk much about the presentation of PaySwarm made by Manu Sporny, the community leader and chair of the Web Payments group at W3C, during the Innotribe session at the last Sibos.

The PaySwarm web platform is an open standard that enables web browsers and web devices to perform micropayments. This is an initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to create a universal payment standard for the Web.

Manu Sporny: “the problem with payments on the Web today is that no one has said, ‘This is how money on the Web is going to work.’ So, that is what the Web Payments group at the W3C is doing. We’re currently creating standards, like the PaySwarm specifications, that are going to be released patent-free and royalty-free to the public. Using these standards, anyone can join the financial network and begin innovating without asking for permission. By doing this, we hope to bring the same amount and speed of innovation to the financial sector that the Web brought to the publishing sector.”

These words are essentials and they explain why both the payment services proposed by some startups like Square and e-wallets provided by banks cannot really succeed: they have very little chance of being built into the core of the Web’s architecture. They are closed, proprietary systems. Each imposes its own practical constraints, while PaySwarm will install a purchase mechanism as simple as possible directly into the browsers (a demo can be seen here).

Manu Sporny: “One of the great things about the Web is that, in general, which web browser you use to view a website does not matter. We think it would be awesome for the Web if both website owners and the people browsing the Web didn’t have to care about how payments happen anymore. You just click a button and the transaction happens. Website owners see a steady stream of money coming into their accounts. Visitors to websites don’t have to enter sensitive information such as credit card numbers or home addresses on sites that they’ve never been to before.” This includes using applications to manage all of the digital receipts you have created over the course of a year to more accurately keep track of your spending, to get access to discounts by providing a proof of purchase, to file your taxes more easily, or to just digitally archive your receipts.

By the way, all of the PaySwarm specifications are currency-agnostic. When you do a transfer on PaySwarm, the currency can be a nation-backed currency or an alternative currency. This feature uses a mechanism called the currency mint, which is capable of creating (and reclaiming) a particular type of currency. Anybody can set up a currency mint, which means that anybody can create his or her own currency with PaySwarm.

Of course, at this step, it is hard to assess whether PaySwarm will become the universal payment standard for the Web, used by billions of people around the world. In fact, we miss many technical details to gauge the availability of the PaySwarm process. Anyway, the idea is itself revolutionary: payment becomes a totally integrated function. To buy anything on the Web, you just need a checking account. No means of payment are needed anymore – Visa and Mastercard are useless. For banks, it looks more like a tremendous opportunity than a threat.

Guillaume ALMERAS/Score Advisor

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