Tuesday , August 11, 2020

Online Merchants Are Starting to Deploy the Big Networks’ Common Buy Button

The long-awaited common buy button became a reality Tuesday with an announcement from the four major payment card networks that they have enabled the technology for three e-commerce merchants. Half a dozen more are expected to come online for the technology, called Secure Remote Commerce, by the end of the year.

In an unusual joint announcement, American Express Co., Discover Financial Services, Mastercard Inc., and Visa Inc. said SRC will simplify and secure card transactions on Web and mobile sites, mobile apps, and on connected devices. The first merchants to adopt the technology are movie-ticket marketer Cinemark, Movember, a charity site aimed at men’s health, and Rakuten, a general merchandiser.

BassPro, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, Papa John’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Shop.com, and Tickets.com are set to go live with SRC by the year’s end, according to the joint announcement.

The service is based on a specification from EMVCo, the standards body controlled by the four big U.S. networks as well as Japan’s JCB and China UnionPay. It attacks two major e-commerce issues card payments have struggled with in recent years: rising fraud and confusing, time-consuming checkouts. Online fraud in particular has become more problematic in the U.S. market since the 2015 introduction of chip cards at the point of sale, a move that has led fraudsters to turn to opportunities in online markets. With SRC, card data used for online transactions will be protected by tokenization services offered by the four networks. 

The new SRC buy button that will begin appearing on e-commerce sites.

At the same time, the spec replaces the familiar cluster of checkout buttons with a single buy button (pictured, right) in an effort to mimic the single payment terminal at a physical store. According to the spec, the shopper who is ready to check out will click the SRC button to enter an email address. That action will bring up a list of cards she owns, regardless of network brand. She then selects one to complete the purchase. First-time SRC users follow a guest-checkout routine by entering their card details and billing address. They also will be asked if they want to create an account.

In this way, the hope is that merchants will be able to cut abandonment rates and “offer multiple card brands for digital checkout in one seamless integration,” according to Tuesday’s announcement.

With merchants just starting to adopt the spec, which was released in June and has been in development at least since early 2018, observers say much now depends on actual experience. “Up to now, SRC has been more than a theory but less than a product,” says Thad Peterson, a senior analyst at Aite Group, a Boston-based consultancy and research firm. “There haven’t been actual transactions. Nobody’s seen it work yet,” he adds, referring to widespread commercial use.

The networks’ joint announcement notes they have “tested SRC technology in market with issuers and merchants.” They predict “wide availability” by early next year.

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