An API, or application programming interface, is a set of protocols and tools that let different types of software interface with each other. Developers use APIs to quickly add new features to their software. Payment service providers like PayJunction publish APIs that allow software providers and developers to easily add credit, debit and ACH payments within their core software for in-person and online acceptance.
In this article, we’ll outline key considerations businesses and software vendors should look for when integrating payment acceptance with point-of-sale systems, websites, customer relationship management systems and accounting platforms.
How a Payment Processing API Works
A payment API acts like a plugin for a business’ existing software. Integrating additional features into a core business system enhances its functionality and makes it easy for employees to access important functions through one familiar interface. Consider an automotive dealer as an example. The software program that stores service records for customers may be more valuable to users if it integrates with Google Maps API (to identify certified repair shops if a car breaks down on a trip) and a payment API (so customers can remotely review and pay digital invoices or purchase parts).
Using an API to integrate payment acceptance saves businesses time by eliminating the need for developers to build custom code and go through the tedious process of EMV certification and PCI compliance validation.
A payment API should make business operations simpler. Before signing on with a partner and integrating to their API, make sure the provider offers the full package of omnichannel payment features and services so payments can be accepted in-person, online, in an app, via digital invoices, or through recurring or subscription services. Otherwise, you’ll have to search for a new provider or piece together a patchwork of services from multiple providers to integrate missing features. Consolidate providers and eliminate middleware by working with a company that is a Merchant Account Provider with their own Payment Gateway.
One question to ask when screening prospective API providers regards responsibility for software updates. Does the provider maintain an in-house team that is accountable for updates and compliance? Or does the company outsource this kind of continued development work to a third party? Evaluate the provider’s willingness and ability to take ownership for their role in keeping their services compliant with current standards.
Limit Liability With Secure Cloud Connectivity
Payment technology evolves rapidly. It doesn’t make sense for independent software vendors to pour months of development work into an API partner that can’t provide up-to-date tech solutions and supportive customer service. Finding an API that limits liability for your clients reflects well on your business, too.
A cloud-based API, like PayJunction’s API, removes sensitive cardholder data from the software provider’s or business’ local systems and networks. An open-access RESTful API communicates with just about any native or SaaS software, allowing customers to accept credit, debit and ACH payments without leaving the core software interface. Further, PCI DSS compliance is simplified by working with a PCI Level 1 provider like PayJunction since the onus of PCI standards falls to the systems hosted in their data centers.
Keeping data in the cloud offers multiple benefits. It increases security, limits the business’ liability, and improves the customer experience. Merchant Account Providers that use middleware put businesses smack dab within PCI scope. Middleware stores and processes credit card data on a local system, so the business may be more vulnerable to fraud and face annual or quarterly audits. Middleware also tends to slow transaction speeds, which can irritate customers. With cloud-connected EMV terminals, the business’ computer and software never touch the credit card data, protecting the business from this liability. Businesses simply plug the terminal into a network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and communicate to it via a REST API.
Essential API Features
Many software companies strive to be the best at what they do. Offering an API is a win-win scenario: The software company gets to offer a seamless workflow experience and developers don’t have to waste time and resources replicating work.
Here’s a checklist to help you evaluate payment APIs:
- Security: Keeping financial data secure is a top priority for businesses. Any payment API partner worth considering should be able to demonstrate what they do to be PCI DSS compliant. All cardholder data should be protected with tokenization, which replaces sensitive cardholder data with a randomly-generated string of characters that has no mathematical connection to the actual account number. Only the payment processor has access to the data.
- Speed: Software companies move fast. Part of the reason APIs are so popular is because they save significant development time. If you find an API partner company with the right integration capabilities, you can be up and running in a sprint cycle or two. PayJunction’s RESTful API is open access, so anyone can ask for the code, try out a Smart Terminal for developer testing and access a helpful library of sample code and support articles.
- Convenience: Integrating a payment API streamlines payment processing, which boosts productivity and improves the customer service experience. Employees find it more convenient to work with a system that incorporates multiple functions used every day. A veterinary clinic, for example, can incorporate patient records, veterinarian schedules, an appointment calendar, and payment processing into a connected software solution.
- Advanced payment features: Businesses appreciate the security and convenience of storing customer accounts on file to facilitate auto-pay or handle refunds with a few clicks. Digital invoices allow businesses to quickly create an electronic invoice from within their software, attach supporting documentation, and send to customers via email. Remote signature capture enables convenient, secure e-commerce and phone transactions that protect the business against disputed transactions and chargebacks.
- Live customer support: Who can you turn to if you encounter a problem during the integration process? Chatbots and emails can be frustrating. We recommend partnering with an award-winning company such as PayJunction that offers live support for software providers and their customers.
How PayJunction Can Help
Talk to the integrated payment pros at PayJunction. Learn how we invest in your success and support ISVs and business owners throughout the customer journey. A partner that provides you with a single dedicated point of contact will help you achieve your goals.