Looking back, you might mark your calendar — today, Oct. 22 — as the dawn of digital commerce’s age of standardization.
More specifically, it might be known as the day when secure remote commerce (SRC) took root.
As reported Tuesday, a quartet of payment networks — American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa — said that the SRC industry standard, which simplifies card payments made online, has gone live at a number of issuers and merchants.
It’s an important milestone, because for all of its technical wizardry, for its always on the go, omnichannel promise, eCommerce has yet to keep pace with one important part of the brick and mortar retail environment: A standardized, seamless checkout experience.
In any physical retail setting, the drill is familiar to you: Present a card, dip or swipe that card, the transaction goes through, the payment is made — and you exit the store with merchandise in hand. It works more or less the same everywhere — at all card-accepting merchants anywhere in the world.
A lack of standards is the reason why, until today, that checkout experience has been inconsistent for consumers who are shopping at online merchants where they have not registered a card on file, and just want to make a purchase using guest checkout.
The drive to a universal checkout experience — that single digital terminal — is what Secure Remote Commerce is all about and why today marks such a significant milestone for consumers and merchants alike.
In an interview with Karen Webster, Jess Turner, executive vice president of digital payments and labs of North America at Mastercard, said that “this latest move is about is showing the industry how we are coming together to what is better for the merchants and the consumers, which is what has always been at the heart of SRC.”
She said the Mastercard has gone “live” with those firms and will continue to add merchants through the rest of this quarter.
Click To Pay
Tuesday’s announcement detailed that consumers will “click to pay” at select merchants in the United States this month, with wider availability in early 2020.
Payment processors and payment platforms such as Adyen, Visa's CyberSource and Authorize.Net, FIS, Global Payments, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services and Stripe are now offering click to pay to merchants.
The initial focus will be on converting existing Masterpass and Visa Checkout merchants to click to pay, according to the release.
Among the first merchants to adopt “click to pay:” Cinemark, Rakuten and Movember, to be followed by a merchant roster that includes BassPro Shops, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, Papa John’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, SHOP.com and Tickets.com by the end of the year.
“We will scale at a faster pace in Q1 and Q2 of next year,” she told Webster.
She noted that payment service provider (PSP) support for SRC is critical, and will allow even smaller and independent merchants to have the same online checkout experience as their larger brethren. That comes by standardizing data payloads and fostering low friction at checkout.
Call it the democratization of eCommerce.
As Turner and Webster discussed, SRC allows online merchants to replicate the ease of transactions done in the physical environment, taking a cue from best practices that have been honed over several years. Cardmembers who use SRC will not have to manually enter card numbers or shipping details when transacting over the web.
In terms of mechanics, consumers choose what payment method they want to use and an SRC initiator (the payments service provider) initiates the payment (and, eventually, tokenization). A digital card facilitator is behind the issuance and ultimate storage of the card data.
On the consumer side of the transaction, the shopper participates in a guest checkout experience that will be tailored to the needs of each merchant, but consistent for every consumer checking out as a guest. The consumer will see all the cards and payment options for that purchase across all networks and can choose among them.
Looking ahead, according to Turner, “there’s the first launch and implementation,” she said, but after the initial deployment merchants will be able to evolve their checkout experiences as they see fit.
“Merchants have an ability to control and be part of what provisions of SRC they want to use in the future,” Turner said.
Noting that allowing consumers to speed through guest checkout and helping merchants integrate with all the payment networks through a single point of access are “big wins,” she said that SRC also features robust security protocols, as noted in this space in past coverage. SRC creates an encrypted token that in fact outlives the card numbers.
There’s a high level of dynamic data that flows with transactions, she told Webster, and the strong security measures tied to tokenization have helped spur the PSPs and merchants announced on Tuesday to embrace SRC.
SRC offers flexibility as they strive to serve end users and foster sticky relationships. For example, merchants who might not offer card on file can now embrace that option or allow consumers to pay with digital wallets or optimize guest checkout. For larger merchants, too, the standard offers an easier way for individuals to put their cards that are in SRC into a card on file environment.
Ultimately, she said, the way a merchant deploys SRC will depend on their chosen verticals, consumer bases, and how large or small the merchant may be.
SRC, she said, is ultimately focused on the guest checkout experience. “It allows every merchant to have a best in class digital experience in a way that's never been there before,” she told Webster.