When the very first online stores arrived before the turn of the new millennium, payment was usually limited to credit card and cheque systems. These had often been used for mail-order goods, so it wasn’t a stretch to push the concept further into the online realm. Over the years, however, the online world would fundamentally reshape how we managed payments and currency, still seeing significant steps forward with each passing year. Taking a look at the major standouts, we want to explore the most profound of these steps, and what businesses and organisations helped foster the current state of the market.
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The First Steps
Though the Technology that would eventually lead to web payments began with IBM’s online transaction processing in the 1960s, actual shops would appear much later. After all, you can’t have an internet store without the internet. It was only after the first web browser was commercially released by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991 that such systems had a basis on which to start.
The first mainstream businesses to adopt online payment capabilities were banks, which opened their digital doors to transactions in 1994. In the same year, Pizza Hut also started allowing digital payments, which offered the common man a useful way to purchase food online without the need for cash on hand. In 1995, Amazon started accepting customers for what was then a book store, on its slow march to the top.
Opening with eBay
Also starting its website in 1995 was eBay, which quickly grew to become an online phenomenon. As important as this business was to proving online payment possibilities, however, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that they would raise the digital bar. This occurred with the acceptance of a new type of online payment, PayPal.
PayPal operated money in an account rather than credit and could be separate from a user’s bank. It could be much faster than using traditional methods, and it often came with lower fees. It could also be easier than dealing with bank deposits, and through integration with the enormous eBay, it soon acted as a signal to dozens of other digital payment systems.
The Crypto Revolution
As online payment systems showed the advantages of digital-only systems, forward-thinking developers looked to create something more. This something more began in 2008, from a person or group using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was the first in the cryptocurrency market, a decentralised digital currency that existed independent of a central bank. Operating through a public ledger called the blockchain, Bitcoin had a rocky start, though it’s now considered a major market force.
In terms of businesses driving Bitcoin success, progress was more eclectic. The early years of Bitcoin were about experimentation, as tech stores, real estate, and even fast food came and went again as temporary and then regularly tradeable products.
Streamlining the Whole
Approaching 2020, the different payment systems were all being taken more seriously, both by finance professionals and the general market. Aiding in this trajectory were a few major industries which diversified existing popular goods and services with as many different payment systems as possible.
One of the more indicative of these industries was that of online casinos. Many of these pride themselves on offering a wide range of deposit and withdrawal options, with systems accessible over mobiles and desktops. Also delivering specials like deposit bonuses and free spins, and hundreds of games, this level of integration has helped light the way for other industries and customers in terms of choice, perks, and engagement.
As we enter the 2020s, much of the progress we’ve seen recently in developing online payment systems have been following the path of online casinos and similarly progressive industries. There hasn’t been a lot of reinventing the wheel, instead, the focus has been on streamlining existing systems for greater usability.
From a system that relied on basic credit card information, we now have processes that operate by simple clicks online, and even one-touch payments in the physical world. Online payment systems aren’t just a more convenient option, they illustrate an overall cultural shift towards a more digital ecosystem. Essentially guaranteed to only grow in popularity, these systems could one day entirely replace traditional banking structures. Until then, no matter what your stance on personal use, their importance is not to be underestimated.