Using an Application Programming Interface (API) is not a new trend for users of connected devices. Whether you use a computer, smartphone, smart appliances, etc., APIs are critical to how applications on these devices communicate with each other to help you get the information you need. A common example of API usage is when a single click on an address opens a map application on your phone, or web browser. Any time, an application is calling another one to leverage a service or a function, the underlying communication is more than likely using this technology.
What Are Payment APIs and How Do They Help Merchants?
When it comes to payments, APIs play an important role. In physical stores, most small and medium-size businesses use what is called a dual system where a cash register (ECR) is used to scan items and a payment terminal is used to accept electronic payments. These terminals run on powerful operating systems (such as Android) that support the use of payment APIs. Like with smartphones, these APIs can be used to configure communication between multiple applications within the payment acceptance device. This allows merchants to easily integrate powerful business apps with payment acceptance. Solutions taking advantage of APIs help enhance the overall payment experience for the customer and improve efficiency for the merchant. Here’s how:
1. Complete Integration
The dual system commonly used in SMBs can present a few challenges when cashiers need to rekey information in the POS system in case of an error. This could lead to longer wait times for the customers impacting their shopping experience and store efficiency. A payment API enables developers to leverage the payment services on the line of terminals to unify this dual system and enhance the overall payment experience for merchants and customers. Applications can be on a separate cash register or the payment terminal, or in the cloud and instantly exchange transaction information such as amount, pre-authorization, PCI compliant token, receipt data, and more. With payment APIs, ISVs can help merchants streamline the sales process avoiding any delays or negative impacts on customer experience.
2. Enables Enhanced Mobility
With payment APIs in place, ISVs can enable merchants to further enhance mobility experiences. The in-aisle experience can enable a retail employee to help a customer anywhere in the store with inventory information or a smooth checkout. For a curbside pickup, mobile POS solutions with an Android platform and payment APIs can help the staff scan a barcode from the customer to bring up their order details to verify, accept payments and provide them their purchases.
3. Get-to-Market Faster in Any Geography
Payment APIs are beneficial when businesses decide to expand to new geographies. In traditional solutions, working across multiple processing and acquiring networks in different countries can be very complicated and cumbersome for developers and merchants alike. This can result in longer lead times when ISVs can go to market with the same solution in a different country eventually leading to delays for the merchants on their launch. With payment APIs, ISVs only interface with a single API and can get to market quickly with their solution that easily works across multiple processing and acquiring networks. Merchants also benefit as the same solutions can be used in multiple countries without the long wait times with traditional solutions.
Future of Payment APIs
Both ISVs and merchants understand the value using powerful business applications brings to the payment experience. This has also helped make the use of payment APIs popular across different industries. ISVs that sell payment solutions running powerful operating systems such as Android, can take advantage of payment APIs to enhance customer experiences and improve business efficiencies for their merchant customers. For ISVs, payment APIs help them to get to market quicker with their solution in any geography allowing them to expand their reach to new customers and markets. Merchants that are looking to expand their presence geographically, can take advantage of working with their current ISVs and use the same quality of solutions and services they offer without any hassles.
If you are an ISV and are looking to take advantage of Android’s payment APIs, learn more about our Axium platform.
Jean-Christophe Titus is Head of B&A Software Delivery, North America at Ingenico, a Worldline brand