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Why APIs Are Key to a Better Payment Experience

August 11, 2021


API Key Management and Practices

APIs are critical to building payments platforms that can meet the evolving needs of users in 2021. We explore how APIs can improve the payment experience.

When looking at the end-to-end payments experience, it’s critical to remember there are two parts to the experience: the back-end experience for the business and the front-end customer experience. While the two experiences offer completely different things to each party, they are also inextricably linked in certain ways.

Each side of that equation has different expectations for the payment experience. On the back end, businesses recognize that payments impact the bottom line and want to have control over offerings in an agile, secure, and flexible environment. For customers, the goals include a seamless integration experience, easy and fast onboarding, and fraud prevention.

When considering how to improve the payment experience, it’s important to remember that two different experiences can be improved. In 2021, APIs are key to bridging the gap and improving both.

Flexibility is Key for Developers

Developers — and the payments companies that employ them — are looking for flexibility and control. They want the ability to fully customize a solution that can adapt to evolving business needs. Tightly coupled with that is the ability to quickly onboard merchant accounts and facilitate frictionless payments.

On the business side of things, payments companies must constantly find ways to expand revenue streams — and identify new ones. This requires control over each step within the payment process, from acceptance to settlement and dispute and fraud prevention.

Security and Risk Reduction are Essential

Payments APIs can reduce the risk for all parties. Working with an established payments provider can ensure you have a partner to aid with the collection and disbursement of payment funds and someone to share the burden of compliance and liability with. Working with payment facilitators (PayFacs) means that the entity is fully responsible for compliance, liability, and risk.

The ability to easily change or rotate credentials (such as API keys) should be a part of any API. Additionally, business users should be able to restrict access to enable read-only modes to avoid the possibility of data modification where it is not intended. Strong encryption that keeps data secure is also important.

Identifying Strong Payments APIs

The market is flooded with payment APIs, though each business will have its own unique needs. Choosing APIs that address those needs may require some internal analysis; however, some table stakes features should be considered:

  • Documentation – API documentation should be clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date. The ability to access guides that can help with integration is also important.
  • Ease of Integration – APIs must be structured consistently and logically, making it easier for users to build out integrations. The ability to see when things are working — and when they aren’t (via error messages) — is critical.
  • Uptime – Be sure the API(s) you consider have optimal uptime. Is the API operational most of the time or is it not highly available? You want to be sure the API can be leveraged as intended.
  • Versioning – APIs evolve and change and businesses must have the ability to easily and seamlessly transition to newer versions when changes are made to the API.
  • Testing – Integrations require testing where you can experiment in a test environment or sandbox without using real payments or bank data. 
  • API Client Libraries – APIs that have cut and paste code samples available in various programming languages (Ruby, PHP, etc.) can streamline and speed up the build process.     
  • Support – the best APIs will come with dedicated support that can help with problem-solving via various channels of communication.

How Can APIs Improve the Payment Experience?

APIs offer an extremely secure, interconnected, and intelligent way to take payments. Working with APIs to streamline the payments experience can yield multiple benefits.


APIs increase the efficiency of product development while also decreasing costs. Payment systems and products can be rapidly developed and deployed via APIs. APIs also enable companies to quickly and easily expand features and offerings by building on top of existing features, improving time to market.

Speed and Flexibility

The payments landscape is rapidly changing and FinTechs continue to disrupt the market. As customer behaviors and preferences change, payments companies must be able to meet evolving needs, including faster, lower-cost payment services. Easily customizable APIs allow companies to quickly make changes to the back end to improve the front end without disrupting the customer experience.

Scale Revenue

Payments companies can leverage APIs to improve the customer experience for their customers, but they can also build and improve on their own library of APIs that can be sold to other providers, adding new revenue streams in the process.


APIs have many benefits for your payment systems. They’re the way forward for most businesses and offer speed, security, privacy, and are easy to customize and expand. The API payments model will continue to grow as more businesses and organizations look for ways to integrate and improve their business offerings.

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