How a Payments API Helps Boost Growth and Flexibility

Written by
Peter Mollins
Publication Date
December 16, 2018
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Your business has lofty growth goals. To deliver on these objectives, you need to deliver a great customer experience. And a key part of a great experience is the payment process. Siloed approaches to payments within a single stack may not fit your unique needs. You want an approach that supports constant innovation. 

Plus, you want your payments applications to be adaptable as your business needs change -- that's where a payments API can help.

An effective payments infrastructure will support that need for flexibility and innovation. And it will make it easy for your applications to connect and transact via a single payments API. 

When you connect your application via a payments API to a gateway-independent platform, you take advantage of an adaptable payments infrastructure. Plus, you are able to transact via a basket of other payment services and gateways‚ further enhancing your range of choice.

How Does Connecting to a Payments API Help Me?

The e-commerce applications that you build for your service are unique to your own requirements, that's why you built them! So, your payments system should also support your specific technical and business needs. 

But what are those benefits? Let's take a look.

Capture Card Data to Reduce PCI Compliance Burden

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of standards that helps merchants and others that handle card data do so safely and securely. Companies that work with card data must comply with these standards. However, the degree of rigor associated with compliance varies depending on the degree to which a business interacts with the card data. The more PCI scope your business has, the more burdensome are the requirements and audits.

So, it can be very valuable to minimize the scope of compliance burden. One way to reduce PCI scope is to use a payments infrastructure and API to support the initial step of collecting card data from consumers. Our payment infrastructure supports both sophisticated collection experiences via the API or even simple iFrame-based payment forms. That makes collecting card data easy, while minimizing your PCI compliance scope.

Store Card Data in a Secure Vault via API

After your application has captured card data, you want it available for use. But you also want it to be securely stored. Using the payments API, you can pass card data to a secure vault. Stored card data can be fingerprinted to associate payment methods with one underlying card. That can help your application to better support customer needs across channels. 

The power of the payments API also lets you leverage other vault providers too. Application developers looking for redundancy and flexibility can connect to multiple card vaults via the API in order to store and use card data ‚ while ensuring portability of that secured data.

Plus, as we’ll discuss shortly. The value of stored card data comes through the use of it to transact or perform other e-commerce actions. Tokenization and use of the tokens via the payments API with gateways makes this possible.

Using the Payments API to Leverage Other Payments-Related Services

Successful e-Commerce services focus on providing a great customer experience. As a result, many look to use card data in ways other than just to transact in order to improve the overall experience. For instance, consider a merchant with a subscription model or where recurring transactions are common. 

A good experience might involve storing card data so that a customer can renew or transact without having to reenter card data.

However, these stored cards change frequently. It might be because a card is lost or stolen; or it has simply expired. In any case, the change can lead to declined transactions that lose revenue and long-term customers. 

The payments API can be used to automatically update card data. Card data is validated and, when out-of-date, can be refreshed. The result is fewer declines and happier customers.

This kind of usage of card data via the payments API could also apply to other use cases. For instance, a team may decide to use a third-party fraud detection service. The application could be directed via the API to that service to check a transaction prior to completion.

Integrating with Multiple Gateways via a Payments API

Fast growing e-commerce services must quickly and flexibly deliver new applications and functionality. That could be connecting to a fraud service to validate a transaction prior to processing. Or, using the payments API to connect to one or more payment gateways. Or, it could be to connect to virtually any other payment service that supports successful transactions. 

. Why would you need to connect your payment API to more than one gateway? We see many reasons across our customer base.

  • Expanding internationally: Companies may be happy with their current payment gateway, but as they move into new markets, they discover that their current provider can't accept payments there.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions: After buying a company, the acquirer discovers that its business units have multiple payment providers and need to manage these various integrations.
  • Keeping gateways in check: It's important in many business relationships to have a balance. By connecting into multiple gateways via a payments API, the merchant can maintain negotiating leverage
  • Ensuring availability and performance: Even the most robust payment gateway can suffer outages and downtimes. Using a single payments API to connect to multiple gateways allows you to route traffic as needed when outages, declines, or latency increases.

Our payments API simplifies the integrations with gateways and payment other APIs. You can simply integrate one time and add new connections quickly.

Use a Payments API to Connect to Partner APIs

Merchants don't just transact via gateways, they also transact via third-party partner APIs. Imagine a travel booking site. Visitors to the site want to not only book travel, they also want to book a hotel and a car rental. Offering all three of these options is great for the customer experience, but it is significantly more challenging to build for application developers.

So, let's say that a customer books travel, hotel, and a car rental. The application then may process the travel of the transaction directly via a gateway. 

And the hotel and car rental, being offered by other vendors, are passed to the partner merchants for processing. This passing of data is done via a payments API, making the third-party transaction fast and simple to manage.

A Payments API Helps You Develop and Maintain Applications Faster

Time to market is essential. So, development teams look at ways to provide a great, secure customer experience in balance with speed-to-market. The benefits of connecting to multiple payment gateways and payment APIs are very great, as mentioned above. But at the same time, managing those API integrations can be a challenge, and can slow down development. 

An alternative is to use a payments API to abstract away the management challenge. For instance, by connecting to Spreedly's single API, you can leverage the value of many gateways without having to manage numerous connections to third-party gateways.

Payments APIs are a powerful tool to help e-commerce services and merchants build better customer experiences faster.

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