Developers at Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Mozilla have created a browser application programming interface (API) that could soon enable the online purchase of goods and services using cryptocurrency, CoinDesk reported.
The work initiated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the help of top technology companies was announced on Thursday and signifies the growing recognition of digital currency as a legitimate means of payment. The API is currently being deployed 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. Upon activation, the Payment Request API will allow new payment types, including bitcoin and ether, to be stored directly in the browser, after which consumers will be able to choose their preferred payment method from a drop-down menu.
With that, head of the W3C’s payment activity Ian Jacobs said now is a good time for people to start writing blockchain-based payment method descriptions and to try to test the technology. Ultimately, the consortium sees the broad implementation of API as a way to offer consumers more payment options and merchants a more secure online checkout, Jacobs explained. He added that he hopes the early adoption and the increase in browser support over time will enable a wider deployment by the middle of next year.
The move to legitimize digital currency as a means of online payment is part of a wider trend that sees bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies not just as a general purpose technology but also as an institutional one. According to this theory, bitcoin does not merely allow us to do what we already do better, faster and cheaper, but it also represents a new mechanism to coordinate economic activity and facilitate cooperation between individuals.