However, just in time for retailers' crucial holiday season, electronic payment pioneer CyberCash (www.cybercash.com) says it's found a way to simplify Web shopping down to one click, through a new program called Instabuy.
Although Instabuy has not officially launched and has yet to sign any major retailers or e-commerce sites, CyberCash has plans to sign 20 to 30 "very large merchants" to the service, says Maureen Loftus, senior VP-marketing and strategy at CyberCash. The company also has signed a deal with credit-card issuer First USA to secure users' financial information.
"The real leverage comes with pervasive acceptance," says David Alschuler, VP e-business at consultancy Aberdeen Group.
Here's how the service works: When users give their credit-card numbers, shipping addresses and other information at an electronic store, they're asked if they want to sign up for Instabuy. If they do, after they make a purchase, the service will assign a password and ID.
Then, when users shop at participating Instabuy sites (currently, only a half-dozen small retailers, such as greentyre.com, have signed up) they click on an Instabuy button and input their Instabuy password; then the relevant data, such as address and credit-card information, are automatically filled in.
The sale, according to CyberCash, is wrapped up in seconds, making online credit-card purchasing as easy as swiping a card in a physical store.
CyberCash says the service will operate with just about every online payment system, such as those from VeriFone and NetSolutions International.
Perhaps of even more interest to marketers, executives at CyberCash say Instabuy can be used to let consumers purchase directly through a banner ad, without having to leave a content site.
For now, the service is free for users and merchants. Starting in January, retailers will pay a setup fee of $3,000 ($1,500 if they already use CyberCash's Cash Register product), a monthly maintenance fee of $100 and between 20 cents and 50 cents per transaction. The service will remain free to consumers.