5 Things Developers Should Look for in a Payments API

September 21, 2014

10:00 am

Rapid evolution is the new normal in payments technology. Brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, kiosks, pop-ups—a single retailer can sell in many different ways, and all of them require payment solutions that have been adapted to the changing needs of both the brand and its customers.

But while retailers need first-rate payments solutions to respond to the shifting demands of the marketplace, developers know that payments solutions are only as good as the technology that drives them. More than ever, payments APIs have to deliver the goods and enable the creation of solutions that transform the card-present, card-not-present and mobile payment experiences.

For too long, developers have had to choose between single-channel APIs that can’t scale to additional channels and sophisticated multi-channel APIs that take an incredible amount of time to integrate. But the latest generation of APIs eliminates the frustration and equips developers with several essential features that improve the development process.

Here are 5 things developers should look for in a payments API:

  1. Omnichannel Capabilities – Supported by single-stack functionality, leading APIs allow developers to rapidly integrate across point-of-sale, mobile, online and other channels that are important to customers. Additionally, omnichannel capabilities make it easier to scale technology to new channels on a go-forward basis, clearing the way for developers to innovate alongside the marketplace.
  1. A Single-Stack Solution – Developers shouldn’t have to use different processors, versions or stacks when integrating across those various channels. Single-stack APIs create opportunities for payments integration in-store, online and via mobile (including iOS and Android), which means reduced integration times, fewer hassles dealing with multiple partners and more streamlined certification processes.
  1. Advanced Security – Since security is a top-of-mind concern for both retailers and consumers, effective payments APIs must go the extra mile to ensure an airtight payment process. End-to-end data encryption for card readers, PIN entry and signature capture and secure vaults for recurring billing are important features. But APIs should also allow developers to tokenize card data at the point of acceptance, mitigating the need for retailers’ servers to make contact with card data.
  1. Multiple Development Languages – Flexibility is an advantage developers can’t live without. Yet in most cases, legacy APIs have limited developers’ options when it comes to the use of languages. For developers, the best case scenario is a payments API that allows for all contemporary development languages, including JSON, Ruby, Python, .NET, JAVA and PHP.
  1. Development Support – Development support seems like an obvious feature for payments APIs. But many APIs lack the robust support community it takes to develop and maintain payments technology. To minimize risk down the road, API support should offer developer-friendly documentation, sample code and other features that improve the development process.

The push for enhanced omnichannel payments solutions isn’t going away—in fact, it’s gaining momentum. Robust payments technology makes the omnichannel marketplace possible. Developers play a central role in enabling omnichannel payments, but increasingly face the challenge of multiple partners or stacks that slow down the process and further complicate things. By tapping into the features and benefits of the best payments APIs, developers and brands can become more agile and more responsive to the needs of today’s marketplace.

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Nish Modi is the senior vice president of product and innovation at SecureNet, an end-to-end omnichannel payments processor that works with businesses of any industry and size to provide integrated payment solutions and detailed purchasing analytics.

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