The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 14, 2018 • Issue 18:05:01
Payments' new, API-driven marketplace
The Green Sheet's new product stories highlight hardware and software solutions, particularly those that help merchant level salespeople differentiate themselves and create new revenue streams. These stories are evolving as the industry moves from closed-loop, proprietary systems to open, collaborative ecosystems involving multiple companies and brands.
This new, collaborative spirit is reflected by growing numbers of payfacs, fintechs and app marketplace models. The industry's need for interoperability is balanced by an equally pressing need for open application program interfaces (APIs).
Tim Sloane, Vice President, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group, described an API's primary function as "allowing two different software solutions, operating both within and between businesses, to communicate in a standard, well-documented way." Sloane provides additional guidance on implementing APIs in a Mercator study published April 26, 2018, titled Developing an Appropriate and Sustainable Business Plan for an API Portal. Citing examples of successful API projects, the report noted the challenges and stress that accompany these efforts.
"As this research report makes clear, building out an API portal poses significant challenges," Sloane wrote. "Maintaining availability, managing the third-party business entities, managing the API platform, and maintaining a consistent API set while also extending the APIs to address new business opportunities will all prove stressful. That stress, however, can be extremely profitable assuming the appropriate business plan is in place."
Despite the difficulties posed by API-driven collaborations, an array of successful deployments is a testament to the work ethic and strategic planning of numerous partnering companies. Following are several examples.
- NCR Silver Quantum: NCR Corp., in collaboration with Samsung Electronics America Inc. and Ingenico Group, launched NCR Silver Quantum, an Android-based all-in-one POS commerce station equipped with NCR software, Samsung tablet and Ingenico payment card reader. The system is designed to help small and midsize merchants manage POS transactions, value-added apps and back-office operations. "When this many companies are involved in a project, I wouldn't call it a partnership, I would call it a consortium," stated John Gibson, Senior Manager of Mobile B2B and Retail Business Development at Samsung.
- Worldpay SmartPay: Worldpay Inc. added the PAX A20 to its line of SmartPay POS devices, Android-based terminals preloaded with AEVI value-added, verticalized software bundles. "At Worldpay we strive to create solutions for merchants that meet the new and changing demands of their customers, which is why we created our SmartPay Series," said Jon Pollock, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Worldpay. "By adding a variety of form factors, and now the handheld PAX A920, merchants can accept payments as well as streamline the same loyalty, payroll, inventory and sales tools across multiple smart devices."
- Dream Payments' Mobile Merchant Services Platform: In addition to collaborating within the greater payments ecosystem, merchant service providers are creating microcosms with built-in business tools and resources for small and midsize merchants. Dream Payments positions its Mobile Merchant Services Platform as a partnering opportunity. Brad Staudt, Senior Vice President of Sales at Dream Payments, said the platform is designed to connect merchants, banks, acquirers, retailers and value-added apps. Dream also partnered with Mastercard to push payments from its Dream Payments Hub via Mastercard Send. "Funds are immediately available on debit and prepaid cards, or at ATMs by using smartphone identity verification," Staudt said.
- TruRating: TruRating Ltd. provides merchants with customer feedback by questioning consumers at the POS. The questions are pre-defined by merchants and rotated for each customer. With a single keystroke, consumers can anonymously rate an aspect of their experience, using a 1 to 10 scale. Ratings are collated into a web portal and analytics suite, enabling merchants to make informed business decisions. TruRating used Verifone's user interface (UI) framework, APIs and Integrated Development Environment to develop its terminal application. In a subsequent case study, Verifone called TruRating "a fast, easy and cost-effective way to collect customer feedback."
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