Mozilla Is Now Working On A Web Payment Standard

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Mozilla is all about Web standards. The non-profit has made it clear that it wants to move the Web away from plug-ins and third party services to Web APIs that will work across any browser. It's latest venture tackles a service that many probably never thought needed fixing - Web payments.

So, what's wrong with our current Web payment services? Sure, services like PayPal can sometimes be a pain, but it's not like the entire system needs to be uprooted, right? Mozilla objects to that line of thinking and offers three reasons why the current Web payment system is broken:

  • Users cannot choose how to pay; they have to select from one of the pre-defined options.
  • In most cases, the user has to type in an actual credit card number on each site. This is like giving someone the keys to your expensive car, letting them drive it around the block in a potentially dangerous neighborhood (the web) and saying please don’t get carjacked!
  • Merchants typically have to manage all this on their own: payment processor setup, costly processing fees, and possibly even PCI compliance.
  • To help solve these problems, Mozilla has introduced navigator.mozPay() in Firefox OS. Mozilla says the JavaScript API was inspired by Google's Wallet API, but contains a few modifications that support multiple payment providers and carrier billing.

    Here's how navigator.mozPay() works in its current incarnation on Firefox OS:

    When a web app invokes navigator.mozPay() in Firefox OS, the device shows a secure window with a concise UI. After authenticating, the user can easily charge the payment to her mobile carrier bill or credit card. When completed, the app delivers the product. Repeat purchases are quick and easy.

    If that sounds interesting to you, you can start testing it out right now on test builds of Firefox OS. The API can't accept payments just yet, but Mozilla encourages developers to start working on implementing the API into their Firefox OS apps now.

    Interested developers can check out the Web payment API documentation here. If you want the code libraries, Mozilla currently has them available in Node.JS and Python. Other libraries for more languages are on the way.

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