Sunday, July 25, 2010

Purchasing in the browser

One of the real benefits of App Stores versus the web is that purchases are so much easier - all you have to do is click on a link (and type your password to validate). Contrast that with the web, where every site has a detailed form to fill out - and sometimes you have to fill it out all over again, if "Verified by Visa" has anything to do with it.

Would it be possible to streamline procurement on the web? I think it could, using a browser-based "account store":

  • Browser stores account details and exposes API for giving them to web page
  • When web page calls API, the user is asked for confirmation (and can select which account to use). E.g. "This site wants to know your account details for a purchase - give them? If so, which account? Type your password to confirm"
  • Account details are sent to page in standard format and used to automatically fill out form

This approach is simple and would work easily with existing sites, automatically populating all the fields. What's more, it allows the browser to help the user out - for example, listing all sites that have been granted access to their account details.

Unfortunately, once account details have been given out, it's difficult to control what the site does with it - they could be passed on to a bad guy, whether intentionally or not.

Here's a better approach:

  • Banks could generate a new unique account number with each purchase. This account number would only work once and also has a brief expiry time, e.g. 1 hour.
  • When a site requests your account details, the browser automatically requests your bank for a new account number, which is then given to the vendor. The vendor cannot then re-use the details or leak them to anyone else.

21 comments:

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建枫 said...

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Anonymous said...

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