They've made some incredible new changes. The new checkout changes will prevent the problem of buyers buying and not paying, and they'll be able to purchase from sellers individually instead of committing to buy from them all at once.
Payment has to take place before the item is considered sold, because paying is now part of the buying process, instead of being separate as it was before. No more non-paying buyers!
Of course, only a small percentage of buyers are seeing this new checkout, as I said before, since it's quite new. But eventually it will be the new checkout system for everyone, and I can't wait for it!
To read more about how the new checkout will work, visit ericds post in the Etsy forums.