PayPal Access becomes the Facebook Connect for online payments

PayPal Access has debuted as one facet of the X.commerce platform, and it operates quite similar to another social networking solution.

SAN FRANCISCO -- PayPal Access was officially introduced during eBay's Innovate Developer Conference 2011 on Wednesday morning as one of the early fruits of the X.commerce open platform.

See also: eBay CEO: We're at an 'inflection point' in commerce

Essentially, PayPal Access is a login, identity system that simplifies shopping for customers by keeping track of multiple passwords and accounts. Even more simply, think of it as Facebook Connect for PayPal.

In theory, and likely in practice in time, this will make online shopping more seamless than anything we've even seen before. To get started, all users need to do is login to participating websites with their existing PayPal accounts. That should automatically bring up preferred shipping and billing addresses and more.

Based on the demo video shown during the opening keynote of the X.commerce expo, a user should be able to make purchases in two clicks. While that surely makes things easy, it might be too easy -- especially for consumers who like to make impulse purchases, but I digress.

For reference, PayPal now has over 100 million active accounts in 190 countries. So before we even keep talking about mobile payments and how that is changing, the more that PayPal Access spreads, the more we could see this revolutionize online payments.

Of course, there are going to be a few reservations on the parts of consumers. For one, there's always the number one concern about security, although PayPal asserts that this system is as secure as PayPal in general.

Additionally, to use the Facebook comparison again, not all Facebook members like Facebook Connect because they don't want the social network having access to all of their other online accounts, for whatever reasons they might have. Those feelings might be applied in this situation as well, depending on varying accounts people might have or simply reservations about one business being too connected to everything else in a consumer's life.

PayPal Access is now available worldwide, primarily in English and support will eventually extend to all languages supported by PayPal.