back to article Mozilla floats payment simplification balloon

The Mozilla Foundation is pitching the idea that Web apps need a common payments API, and has put just such an interface into Firefox OS to try and give the idea some momentum. The Foundation's argument, put forward in this blog post, is that the business of adding a payments button to a Web page is clunky and cumbersome for …


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  1. Steven Roper

    Nice idea, but...

    I really don't want the task of making online payments to be made so easy that it short-circuits my decision-making processes - which of course is what the advertisers and sellers want! As a web dev myself, I can see both sides of this.

    By way of explanation, let me draw a comparison between buying in a shop and buying online: The difference is that in a shop, the buying decision is made at the shelf the product is stored in. You physically look at the product, decide if you want it or can afford it, and then put it back or put it in your shopping trolley accordingly. By the time you get to the checkout, the decision has pretty much been made, because very few people back out of buying something once they're at the counter. There's a kind of "public shame" associated with backing out of buying stuff once you've arrived at the counter for the cashier to ring up.

    Online, however, you can click items into your cart willy-nilly, because come checkout time, there's no "public shame" and backing out of the purchase process at the last moment is easy. I know, because my job involves developing and maintaining e-commerce sites and "checkout abandonment" is a lot more common than in bricks-and-mortar shops. Finding ways of reducing this checkout abandonment is a major design issue for any e-commerce dev team, and it's what's behind this push by Mozilla.

    For me, when I buy on line, I add things I like the look of to the cart as a way of "bookmarking" items I might want to buy; and the decision-making process comes when I am confronted with a credit-card entry form and see the total amount I'm about to spend. Do I really need to buy this right now? If not, just back out of the checkout and delete it from the cart. Or just abandon it altogether and keep searching for a better deal.

    For this reason, my site designs always include an easy "cart <-> wishlist" transfer button next to each entry, so customers can instantly transfer items they don't want right now into their wishlist, allowing them to come back and buy it later if they wish. It's not a sale, but a wishlist is a whole lot better than an abandoned cart. And they can do that all the way up to the credit card form.

    Conversely, when I'm in a bricks-and-mortar shop, I make the buying decision standing in the aisle looking at the product, because I know that once I head to the checkout it's like a psychological point of no return.

    So for me, and probably for many others, eliminating the credit card form takes away that stop point. One easy click and bam - I've just spent way more than I meant to. Which, of course, is exactly what the sellers want; to eliminate the decision making process as much as possible to profit from all those impulse purchases. As a site developer, it's my job to make that happen.

    And that is why, as a customer, I prefer to have to enter my credit card number for online purchases. It's where you stop and think about the fact that you're about to spend money; an equivalent of the in-shop counter - do I have everything I need, do I need everything in my cart? Take that away, and I suspect a lot more people will come to grief over overblown credit cards than is even happening now.

    1. Aaron Em

      Re: Nice idea, but...

      Any fiscal incontinence you suffer is no one's responsibility but your own. What worries me about this is the thought of malware which can keylog a password and then actually spend my money for me.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Nice idea, but...

      I agree with you Steven. Making things too easy to purchase online can lead customers to buyers remorse and the far worse 'buyers prohibition'. If a customer purchases something from you without due consideration & it results in a hardship (angry wife, late house payment, etc...) that customer is far less likely to buy from you again as they associate you (not the product oddly enough) with something bad.

      Also, I know it is terrible but I tend to fill up my shopping cart & provide all the info except my CC then abandon my cart to see if the merchant emails me a deal. A lot more merchants do this than people know. I saved $175 last week on a $1600 purchase this way.

      1. Aaron Em

        Re: Nice idea, but...

        Now that's a handy trick to know! ¡Gracias, señor!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never, ever, will this happen for me!

    This, and similar such systems, won't work with my generation and those older/wiser than me!

    My generation don't 'do' online banking, much less an online payment system as WebAPI/WebPayment etc.

    Why? Well, unless and until Banks actually offer suitable privacy and (especially) real protection for my financial information, including my money of course, I'll refuse any and all such schemes until I kick the bucket.

    CreditCards are marginally better in accepting some of the risk of using their systems, which is why (reluctantly) I do use one (sacrificial card, with an entirely separate bank a/c etc.) to make the few online purchases I need.

    I work in the computer security industry so view with huge scepticism and loathing the current bank schemes to 'protect' their customers (me!) - they have so much faith in their systems that we (the customers) bear all the risks - unless and until this situation changes for the better, my money stays offline. Fact. End discussion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never, ever, will this happen for me!

      You're entitled to your opinion and to be horrendously blinkered if it so suits you.

      However it is rude to stipulate that a discussion involving multiple contributors is to cease just because you have nothing more to say.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Never, ever, will this happen for me!

      I hear you Mr Anonymous Secret Agent. Them online banks just ain't safe. I convey instructions to my financial institution only by rider cloaked under the cover of a new moon and only accept responses marked by the sigil of my banker in the purest beeswax containing the distinctive red ochre used exclusively by that most August house.

    3. Steven Roper

      Re: Never, ever, will this happen for me!

      I hate to break it to you matey, but your money already isn't "offline." Every time you whip out your card at a shop counter, every time you use an ATM, even if you use a passbook in a bank at a teller's booth - how do you think the transaction gets processed? It goes into the computer and gets sent out across the internet via secure link in exactly the same way as you using a browser to access a bank website or shop online. And even though ATMs use their own custom network as opposed to the wider internet, it still has the same essential vulnerabilities. If,as you say, you work in the computer security industry, you would already know this.

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