October 12, 2011
PayPal Inc. on Wednesday unveiled a system that relies on data held by PayPal to authenticate buyers and speed them through registration on e-commerce sites, including sites that don’t accept PayPal for payment. The system, called PayPal Access, is commercially available now for Web sites. A mobile version is close and will become available early next year, according to Damon Hougland, general manager of identity and informatics for X.commerce, a business unit of PayPal parent eBay Inc. that developed the system along with PayPal.
To use PayPal Access, a site must sign up for a PayPal account but is not obliged to accept PayPal. The new system then gives the site access to some 100 million active PayPal users, who can control how much information they want to share. If a user selects PayPal Access when first visiting a participating site, he can potentially reduce as much as five pages of enrollment forms to a few clicks, with PayPal supplying merchants with information including shipping details. On subsequent visits, users can log in with their PayPal user name (typically an e-mail address) and password.
PayPal and X.commerce, which grew out of the PayPal X open platform introduced two years ago, say the streamlined enrollment on e-commerce sites should help reduce abandonment rates. They cite research indicating that 25% of site visitors abandon shopping carts when asked to fill out registration forms for an account.
Hougland tells Digital Transactions News PayPal Access is free for online merchants and users. PayPal will benefit, he says, by adding value for both. While users may pay with any instrument when it’s time to check out, PayPal Access “may predispose you to pay with PayPal,” Hougland notes, especially as the system doesn’t share financial data on cards users have stored in their PayPal accounts unless users give permission. “The extra capability increases our consumer value proposition,” he says.
Merchant integration, he says, is relatively easy. “It’s fairly cut and paste,” he says. “A developer will have to do some work, and there are some gotchas, but we help them through it.” The mobile version, which could be especially popular as more and more online merchants create sites optimized for smart phones, is undergoing further beta testing, Hougland adds, to shake out any remaining bugs before release. “It’s not as field-tested as we would like,” he says.
The product is available directly from PayPal and X.commerce, or it can be adopted through a social log-in plug-in and application programming interface (API) from Gigya, a social-integration vendor working with the eBay units. Another partner company is Janrain, which is making PayPal Access available as part of its own “Engage” social log-in widget and API.
PayPal Access was announced on the first day of a developers’ conference hosted by eBay in San Francisco. At the conference, eBay also formally announced X.commerce, an open platform that expands on the PayPal X platform by including tools from other eBay companies, including Magento and GSI Commerce.
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