1994 also saw the launch of the Netscape browser which would interpret text written in HTML into nicely formatted pages. Prior to that nearly everything on the Internet was text only. One could exchange email or download files using the FTP protocol, and that was about it. Prior to having a browser, which allowed access to any location on the Web, graphical interfaces were on closed networks only, such as America Online.
Both Amazon.com and eBay launched in 1995. At the time eBay was strictly an online auction site which catered more to those buying or selling rare and higher-priced items. Fifteen years later in 2013, Amazon sells a wide variety of items. When they first opened they sold only new books. There were many critics and doomsayers predicting their imment demise. The critics were outnumbered by Amazon’s customers who were happy to be able to buy discount books online.
PayPal launched in 1998, which made it easier to shop online at e-commerce sites that accepted PayPal. This meant that a shopper didn’t have to reveal their credit card information to the online store or service provider. It also opened doors to others who may not have been able to qualify for a merchant account, since it allowed them to accept online payment through the PayPal interface.
2004 was the year that the Payment Card Industry Standards Security Standards Council (PCI) was formed to decide on security standards for online payment processing. This further solidified the gains that had been made in the widespread acceptance of e-commerce.