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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.
Google Checkout launched today. It promises to provide a single place to keep your payment information so as to make on-line transactions easier and more secure.
All this sounds hauntingly familiar.
And while Google Checkout is being positioned in the press as a major competitor to Paypal, which it undoubtedly is, it actually reminds me of something else that hasn't done as well.
Quoting from the Google Checkout website: "Stop creating multiple accounts and passwords."
Where have I heard that before?
Oh yeah, Microsoft Passport.
Passport was originally intended to be a single login solution that would work across a broad range of websites, and reduce the number of places you needed accounts, passwords and stored credit card information. Passport did OK for a while, but it never really caught on. Today, Passport remains a mostly Microsoft login solution for MSN properties and Microsoft's Windows Live initiative. In fact you'll notice that it's slowly being rebranded as your "Windows Live ID".
In my opinion, the biggest reason Passport failed is the issue of trust. While there are a lot of Microsoft supports out there, there are many vocal detractors. Many people distrust Microsoft for a variety of reasons - most not actually related to Passport. Regardless, they didn't want to place their personal details, such as credit card information, in Microsoft's hands.
The same actually holds true for Paypal. There are still many people who refuse to use or get a Paypal account simple because of the trust issue, in their case often surrounding how Paypal handles certain types of transaction disputes.
Today, Google is the industry darling and a popular choice. Among it's many, many assets it currently holds a very high level of trust among internet users. More than any other service Google provides, if Checkout is to succeed, it will require that Google as a whole, maintain and perhaps even improve, that high level of trust.
If Google drops the ball, if that trust is lost for any reason - perhaps not even directly related to the Checkout service - it's almost impossible to regain.
There are some folks over at Microsoft that learned this lesson the hard way.
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