Choosing an API for accepting payments
Choosing the right API affects your customer’s journey, and therefore how they see your company. While the right API can help customers feel comfortable and at ease when making a purchase or interacting with you, the wrong one can potentially be the breaking point for them to walk away.
Here is your ultimate guide on choosing an API for your company.
What Is an API?
API stands for an application programming interface. An API acts as a middle ground between an application or program and your customers.
An API is a lot like a teller at a bank. When you go to your bank, the teller helps with anything you need, such as depositing a check, withdrawing some money, or making a payment on a loan. The teller acts as a shield from what is happening behind the scenes. They make it so you don’t have to worry about security, investments, interest rates, or even organizing shifts. They help you get what you want.
In the same way, an API helps customers interact with companies, programs, applications, and information in a user-friendly way. The API makes it easy for your customers to get the information and content they want without having to sift through multiple sources of information.
How APIs Work
APIs not only provide information like a teller speaking to a customer, but they also serve as a middle man if the customer needs information from a third party. In the teller example, if a customer wants to know how much is in their checking account or what the interest rates are for a CD, they talk to the teller.
The teller takes that question to a banker or upper management who provides the answer. The teller then translates their answer and politely tells the customer what they need to know in a way they can understand.
This trade of information between customers and the API is best seen in weather apps. If you’re using a general app to check the weather, chances are the company doesn’t have a network of weather sensors; instead, they find existing information from a third party and present that information in a way that makes sense to you.
Two Categories of API
The role of an API can be broken down into two main categories.
To continue with the bank example, a teller makes it easy for you to deposit and withdraw money. It’s the teller’s job to know the rates, answer any questions about financing options for a new business, and provide a perfect customer service experience. The teller hides the complexity of running a bank behind a pleasant smile and good customer service.
In that same way, an API allows customers to access complex information in an accessible and easy-to-understand format.
If someone comes into a bank and starts to yell and scream, it’s the teller’s job to call security and make sure the bank and its customers are safe. Tellers stop random strangers from standing next to you while you’re banking. In the same way, APIs protect your customers.
When you get an alert on your phone that asks if an app can use your microphone, GPS, or contact information, that is not the app being nice—it is the API protecting you. APIs help protect personal information.
What Should You Look for in Your API?
If you’re choosing an API, it can get challenging to choose from a variety of different benefits and services. Here’s a quick guide to what you should look for when choosing a payment API.
How does the API take complex information and make it easy to interface with? The API you choose to go with needs to be accessible for your customers while performing the needed functions.
No matter which branch or bank you go to, you have specific expectations on how a teller should act and interact with you. The same can be said of APIs; customers have become accustomed to a standard API.
APIs have an accepted standard for certain industries and you need to continue in that trend. There is the potential for going against the grain and trying something new, but that comes with high risk. You can potentially lose customers due to your atypical API.
You would hate to go to a bank where the teller is great at taking your money but is an absolute klutz and just can’t seem to understand how to help you withdraw the cash you need. Don’t settle for an API that lacks necessary features. Make sure your API does everything you need it to do.
Hiring a teller who can speak more than one language is amazing, because they can help more customers. When an API supports various programming languages and formats, this provides a more inclusive customer experience.
APIs that are only able to integrate with one programming language are limited. If a customer tries to access the API in a different way, they won’t be able to reach the API. For example, if you have an API that can only interface with Windows programming, any user that tries to access it on an Apple device will not be able to get the information. An API that supports multiple languages allows for more inclusion and a broader customer base.
You shouldn’t have to learn an API on your own. Look for an API that has an established community. These communities are a great place to turn to when you have technical problems and things don’t seem to be going the way you want them to. Having a robust, active community to help troubleshoot and bounce ideas off of is an invaluable resource.
Use Prizm’s API
Choosing an API is easy when you see what Prizm can do for you. Prizm offers features to accept both card-present and card-not-present payments and developer support to make your integration easy. It is enterprise-ready and is customizable to fit your needs and give the service your customers deserve. Want to check it out? Explore the API here.