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If Viaweb didn't process credit card transactions for the first year I'm curious what initially attracted merchants to using it.

They wanted to be able to generate a good-looking site with large numbers of products and a way for people to order them. Till about 1997 online order volumes were so small that it was no problem for merchants to manually punch in credit card nos on their POS terminal.

Maybe the ability to reach customers around the world much cheaper than any other way? Remember that the first (and most of the) customers were already-existing businesses, hence they presumably already had a method for processing transactions.

At least, that's my guess.

I don't think anyone was really processing credit cards through the web at that point, at least not unless you paid out the nose for a custom system. "Sales" could still be made over the web, you just couldn't receive payment for them - like an online catalog really.

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