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Google Checkout promises to be a one stop purchase processor. Where have I heard this before?

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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at

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.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10461 in the go to article number box. Leave a comment, I read them all.

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Article C2708 - June 29, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Brian D
June 30, 2006 9:53 PM

Trust me with your credit card, I dare you! Thats pretty much what people do everyday when they type in that 16 or so digit number, and click 'ok'. With whats happening in data breaches, and thefts of personal data lately, and yes I was included in the theft of the veterans info. I got the official were gonna do something about it, but not sure what rigamorrow, anywho at what point do you stop trusting a website? It's not like getting burned on a purchase down at the Ace hardware store, you usually have more reasons to go back. Whether out of need or you like the other 20 people that work there and just not the one guy that screwed you. Now if this nifty little program I tote around now on my U3 USB toy, were to not erase itself off a public machine, I would be scrwed and my trust level with the roboman would disentegrate..and I may not use a credit card online again...but hey thats me..and what about Google? I do use their gadgets, and love its new hotkey feature for a google search...but leave my vital-commerce tool on someone's server(s), nah I dont think so..i dont have a passport either..
later leo,
my 2 cents

August 2, 2006 8:43 PM

i want to change my messenger password but i dont know how.

November 11, 2008 7:56 AM

It's been a while since you recorded this, but a recent event prompted me to write in. There's an issue with Checkout that doesn't get much notice: what happens when there's a dispute with a merchant.

If I pay an online merchant directly with a credit card, if there's a problem and the merchant doesn't resolve the problem to my satisfaction, I can dispute the issuer of the credit card. If I buy something from an associate merchant and there's a problem that the merchant fails to resolve, will intercede on my behalf.

Not so with Google Checkout. Even if I pay with a credit card and there's an issue, I can't dispute the charge because the transaction is between me and Google, not the merchant. Google dispute resolution process is an online arbitration; lengthy, time consuming, and fruitless if there's a fundamental disagreement with the merchant.

In my opinion, the loss of consumer protections is not offset by any conveniences Google Checkout may offer.

Leo - I just wanted to put this forward as a criterion if you should review similar services in the future.
April 6, 2011 12:43 PM

Hey, I actually can’t view your web site properly inside of Chrome, I truly hope you take a look at fixing this.

I regularly use my website in Chrome. Would love to hear more details of how it's not working for you. It works well for me.

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