FinTech startups continue to disrupt the way financial services are delivered. Powering some of this FinTech innovation is the much talked about concept of an API. APIs are the answer to the question of how startups are able to build products faster these days. And open APIs allow startups of all sizes, large companies, and entities having different levels of knowledge to work together to create new products and services.
So you may ask that making APIs open to outsiders is pretty much like inviting the competition to come in and read the insider’s note. However, industry watchers say that offering an open API should not be seen in that way. Instead, it lets fresh-off-the-boat tech companies and ever competitive developers innovate much faster on top of an already built platform, as opposed to keeping their app development limited and within the closed doors. It's a different mindset and one that is making waves in this fast-paced FinTech world where the race is to bring new (and better) products faster to the market.
Let us look at an exhaustive list of APIs that are doing great (including latest updates):
Braintree’s Partners APIs provides users with an integrated way to start accepting payments using the Braintree payments gateway. The API allows users to sign up seamlessly from within applications and get instant approvals so merchants can easily receive the credentials on a user’s behalf, basically everything required to process a transaction. It becomes easier for merchants if their customers are already Braintree users, in which case users only need to sign in to initiate payments. For existing Braintree merchants, the Partners API enables developers to build valuable features in their apps like data visualizations and reporting.
The CardConnect API allows secure acceptance of a wide-range of credit, debit and alternative payments. Instead of a high flat rate, CardConnect uses “interchange plus” pricing as processing costs. The API offers features like next day funding, certified PCI level 1, patented tokenization, recurring billing, online bill presentment, hosted payment page and fraud protection as well. From Yen to Euros, CardConnect has you covered. CardConnect’s partnerships throughout the world allow it to offer global pricing and operate in different currencies internationally. CardConnect’s reach includes Canada, Japan, and 18 European countries with more in the very near future.
The Dwolla API provides an interface to integrate the Dwolla payments platform into a software application. Dwolla is a payments processor that provides a web based platform which allows users to send, receive, and request funds from any other user. Dwolla can be used to share money with friends through Facebook and Twitter. Users can also purchase goods and services through the web and mobile devices. The API provides developers with the functionality to send, request, and retrieve account history and send money between Dwolla accounts.
The technology giant offers exclusive Wallet APIs which enable the integration of its popular Google Wallet services. The APIs help streamline purchase flow across mobile apps and websites. Two major API offerings include:
Instant Buy: this API provides a cloud-based method to access and store payment information. It increases conversions by streamlining purchase flow and reducing the amount of information customers need to enter. It can integrate with existing payments infrastructure and offer payment services quickly, easily, and free of charge.
Wallet Objects: this API is a simple platform to connect businesses to millions of Google users and showcase loyalty programs, offers, and more. Businesses can engage with customers through the always-available platform with location-based notifications, real-time updates, and messaging. Moreover, it becomes easier to manage updates at scale through the cloud.
The company offers the quickbooks Online API which allows developers to leverage the huge amount of financial data that businesses create within quickbooks. Intuit also offers the Customer Account Data API which, along with the QuickBooks Online API, provides developers with programmatic access to data from more than 19,000 financial institutions. Using these APIs, developers can create third-party applications for QuickBooks which can be offered to consumers through the Intuit Apps.com app marketplace.
The iZettle API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of iZettle with other applications and to create new applications. Some example API methods include managing account information, processing payments, and retrieving payment information. iZettle itself is a mobile, tablet, and web-based payment application. Users can accept payments via mobiles, tablets, and the web with iZettle. iZettle also offers dedicated APIs for integrating support for chip-based card payments. iZettle already offers a mini chip-card reader. Developers can use the chip-card APIs to enable apps to access the card reader and turn the phone into a terminal.
In November last year, payments innovator Marqeta introduced an open issuer processing Payments API. The company already offers a payments platform with feature-rich functionality, making it quick and easy to set up new physical and mobile payment cards, configure multiple funding types, and define how and where cards can be used in real time. Marqeta can power a host of specialty applications, from processing and program management, to multi-merchant commerce, to dynamic spend controls for both business-to-business and consumer use cases. Developers can access all of these features using Marqeta’s open APIs.
The credit card processing giant offers an array of API based solutions to cover multiple aspects of payments solutions. Here are some prominent APIs that MasterCard officially offers to developers for developing payments solutions:
Simplify Commerce: enables acceptance of e-commerce and mobile commerce payments, regardless of the payment brand.
MoneySend: enables money transfer service through multiple access channels.
Mobile UI SDK: can be integrated into a proximity payment mobile UI application to enable mobile banking and mobile wallet service.
rePower: allows participants to add funds to accounts through various points of deposit.
MasterPass – Merchant Checkout: enables online checkout by retrieving payment card information from a digital wallet in the MasterPass network.
Western Union Money Transfers: enables financial institutions to send and receive money transfers using Western Union Agent Network.
The REST APIs by PayPal allow the integration of the popular payment processing system into a web oriented checkout system. PayPal also offers mobile SDKs for iOS and Android that make use of the REST APIs. The REST APIs allow payments either using PayPal credentials or using traditional payment cards as well. PayPal Here is an app that works as a cash register to accept payments on phones.
The Adaptive Payments API by PayPal enables merchants and developers to select the payment scenario that is most suitable to their needs. Merchants and developers can create applications that manage payments, payment pre-approvals, and refunds. Merchants and developers also can send money peer-to-peer, and can split payments in both the parallel and the chained models. Merchants and developers can accept guest payments and can schedule disbursements.
In 2014, Square publicly opened its Connect API to allow merchants and third-party developers to create apps and tools around Square’s platform. Merchants can use Connect API to retrieve activity reports for processed payments, refunds and deposits. Square itself received a massive $150 Mn in funds in 2014 and has offered a number of new services like Square Cash and Square Order. Moreover, the company has also come up with upgraded versions of mPOS hardware solutions. We certainly expect Square to offer even more solutions in 2015, from an API perspective.
APIs by Stripe lets developers integrate payments within their website or apps. Stripe already went global in early 2014 supporting more than 130 currencies. With Stripe, a customer in South Africa can make purchases from a Stripe-using merchant in UK. For merchants, Stripe APIs bring a one stop solution to multi-currency acceptance rather than having to work with multiple financial partners.
Stripe recently updated its APIs to support Bitcoin based payments as well. Launched in March 2014, Stripe has earned itself a reputation for offering hassle-free online payment APIs to address businesses of all sizes.
Visa first launched the “V.me” digital wallet solution in collaboration with Nationwide in UK. V.me allows the user to store card information for multiple credit and debit cards from Visa, Mastercard, american express and Discover along with the ‘Bill to’ and ‘Ship to’ addresses for each of the cards. V.me allows making purchases with a single sign-on which is secure across all channels and devices. All of this is possible through the V.me APIs which makes the integration seamless across platforms.
2014 saw the advent of a secure and convenient way to pay at stores using an iPhone 6 or 6+ with NFC and finger-print Touch ID. Apple Pay is helping users avoid the hassle of carrying a physical wallet and to conduct payments in a secure manner. Apple has provided APIs and SDKs to third party developers to allow them to integrate Apple Pay in their apps. This has seen Apple Pay integrated in a number of payment systems, especially in the case of in-app purchases. More and more banks have been able to integrate Apple Pay thanks to the APIs. This powerful Apple Pay feature will further boost its upcoming international expansion.
Yodlee Interactive, a division of Yodlee, builds APIs to help customers bring innovative FinApps to market more quickly using the richest consumer transactional data in the world. It primarily offers the following two APIs:
Instant Account Verification API – This API is used to enable developers to reduce fraud and risk and also reduce friction. This enables them to get paid quickly because they actually verify the account so the developer can then charge the account making it more seamless and less fragile.
Aggregation API – Enables developers to get access to randomized and securitized bank data through the ability to aggregate accounts, whether it’s an investment account, a bank account, a credit card account, a rewards account, an insurance account, or some other account.
Besides the above two, the company has launched an Enterprise API, custom-built and co-branded for individual financial institutions. Yodlee’s API also allows geo-location information to be added to financial data.
Yodlee developers launched a new set of restful APIs called “FastLink” that helps a user link multiple bank accounts and cards in one place with an easy drag and drop feature at the back end.
Xignite APIs are used by over 40 startups with the clientele including companies such as Betterment, Wealthfront, Personal Capital, Yodlee, Oracle, SAS, Sungard, Charles Schwab, Navy Federal Credit Union, TD Ameritrade, Brinks, GE, and Starbucks. A particular API of the company called the ‘FactSet Fundamentals’ one of the first REST-based APIs to provide accurate and trusted historical financials, fundamentals, earnings and more across more than 170 global exchanges. FactSet Fundamentals joins more than 40 other APIs for financial services in Xignite’s API library. APIs from Xignite provide back-end data integration, powering a lot of financial service ventures.
The startup describes itself as “The API for banking data.” Plaid gives developers the tools to integrate with bank infrastructure, and the ability to access and authorize user bank accounts faster than ever before. Plaid offers two primary products through its APIs that allow users and developers to effortlessly interact with financial institutions.
Plaid Connect: It allows developers to dig into the narrative by collecting transactional data from credit, debit, checking, savings and more accounts in a clean, usable format. It intelligently matches the merchant name, category, location and address of each purchase.
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Plaid ACH Auth: ACH should ideally be simple for both users and developers. Plaid Auth helps developers authorize and set up ACH payments in a few seconds with the credentials which users already know, instead of esoteric account numbers. Developers can also verify ownership and check balances to make ACH painless.
The Finicity platform and API enables software developers to securely and easily integrate customer financial data into their apps. With the RESTful based Finicity Aggregation API, developers can deliver exceptional user experience by leveraging the key API features. More than 16,000 data sources securely connect customers to a broad set of financial institutions to increase the possible market for apps. Comprehensive account types allow developers to feed apps the data they need to deliver a compelling user experience. The following illustration clearly highlights what the Finicity APIs are all about:
The Germany-based bank offers a standardized set of RESTful APIs and management systems handled with OAuth for authentication. With Fidor, each user can receive a specific customer ID and associated bank account. Deploying the Fidor API, requests can be made for third party payments or transfers. Single transactions as well as batch transfers or direct debit withdrawals can be made using a single API-driven procedure. Web-based requests can be made to retrieve user information such as ID & customer email. The API enables developers to access general account management features.
Fidor combines a full banking license with its own technology and Open Bank APIs. The fidorOS has been designed to work with an existing core banking system and is expandable beyond traditional banking services. The banking platform is a middleware that provides support for social trading and lending, virtual currencies and emergency loans without being tied to any legacy code.
The pioneers of HCE SimplyTapp, in mid 2014, opened its APIs to card issuers and app providers with a developer platform that could make it cheaper and easier to include digital cards in mobile apps. SimplyTapp’s APIs are available to developers for running HCE pilots or full-blown programs in accordance with Visa/MC guidelines. The Admin APIs can be used by the user to create new users, wallets and individual cards. By providing open and secure APIs, SimplyTapp allows developers and users to include HCE payments in their applications.
OANDA is a global provider of innovative forex trading services. The company offers free availability of its proprietary fxTrade platform code via the company’s REST application programming interface (API). Programming language agnostic, the OANDA API allows current and prospective partners and individual traders the opportunity to develop customized apps, and trading algorithms and strategies on top of the broker’s award-winning trading platform. OANDA’s API library provides direct communication with its fxTrade servers over secure, authenticated Internet sessions with fully encrypted communication channels.
OANDA has also conducted exclusive FinTech hackathons in the past where developers have showcased the power of APIs by developing amazing applications. Some of the applications as witnessed in past hackathons are:
GlobalFX: A data visualization tool that uses an animated globe to provide forex traders with a visually interactive way to conduct comparative analysis of currencies over a specific time period.
FinCal: A crowdsourced financial calendar that allows users to input and comment on financial events by the currency pairs they anticipate will be affected.
Regression.io: A tool that allows traders to upload any data set they would like to analyze whether there is a correlation between their data and historical currency prices.
2Checkout maximises online sales conversions by giving global buyers localised payment options. It supports transactions in 196 countries and is used by 50, 000 merchants. A leader in payment services, it offers 8 payment methods, 26 currencies and 15 languages making it one of the leading processors of online transactions in the world. The service is simple to implement, including a pre-integrated payment gateway, a merchant account, PCI compliance, international fraud prevention, and plug-ins for 100 of the most popular carts.
A global multi-channel payment company, Adyen offers businesses an outsourced payment solution. This lets merchants to accept payments from anywhere in the world and offer a global payment solution for mid, large and enterprise e-commerce merchants. It has over a decade of experience in running high-volume payments systems. The company which is privately owned and profitable realised a 50 million turnover in 2012.
BancBox lets non-financial institutions to collect, store and send money in a simple, secure and compliant manner. The California-based company provides an API-driven approach to help its clients to offer banking services in their applications.
The Card.io system offers an SDK to developers and coders that allows inputting credit card information as cool as holding the card in front of one’s smartphone’s camera.
SecurionPay is a cross-device stand-alone gateway payment gateway that provides fast and limitless integration possibilities. Set of clean and robust APIs is capable of supporting any payment scenario in the most secure and hassle-free way.
Embedded payment form or advanced Checkout allow immediate transaction processing and are designed to increase conversion rapidly.
This company focuses on both High Risk and Ecommerce industries. Stripe does not do much of the dating/games categories so these guys are a good option. API ink
CardFlight permits app developers to easily take in-person payments within their own iOS and Android apps. Its open platform connects mobile app developers with payment processors, focussing on the 90+ percent of credit card payments that happen in real life. Developers use encrypted mag stripe reader and SDK / API so as to easily and securely accept card payments on their apps, with virtual support of any payment processor or merchant account. Users of the service have full control of their integrated app experience without encountering typical complexity of payments integrations.
San Francisco headquarted, Coinbase is bitcoin wallet and exchange service that facilitates exchange between bitcoin and fiat currencies in 26 countries and bitcoin transactions and storage in 190 countries worldwide. Its three core products, an exchange for trading bitcoin and fiat currently, a wallet for bitcoin storage and transactions and an API for developers and merchants to build apps and accept bitcoin payments. The Coinbase Exchange can be funded through a bank transfer or wire, and trades on the exchange have a maker/taker price model.
Founded in 2007 Fortumo lets app and game developers monetize their users through mobile operator billing in more than 80 countries. It offers features like self-service signup and instant activation as well as seamless payment flow.
This online application takes control from traditional pen and paper billing systems. It offers e-invoices to its clients. Its users can send online bills to their clines and can also receive payments the same way. This is good for businesses which have a widespread client base and their payments can be processed on time and at the click of a button through Invoicera.
Judo provides secure in-app payments to leading companies globally. Their payments experts help guide businesses and their development partners on how to create best in class apps to make paying faster, easier and more secure. They also do all the “usual” – web payments, virtual terminals and IVR solutions. Judo was a launch partner of Apple Pay and developed the first mobile specific fraud prevention service in 2013.
Named as UK’s hottest startups by the The Guardian, as well as been listed on Startup.co.uk’s top 100 start ups and awarded the best web-app award in The Net Web App Startup Award’s Europe, GoCardless is an online direct debit provider. An API wrapper for bank transfer, it allows any business or individual to tap into the direct debit network to create a simple API that makes it uncomplicated and cost effective for small businesses to take debit payments, without having to pay credit card fees or have a merchant account. The company provides the infrastructure for these direct payments and earns a one percent cut on from the transactions. Founded in Jan 2011, by Tom Blomfield, Matt Robinson and Hiroki Takeuchi as a project to facilitate group payments between each other for groups of friends and small organisations, GoCardless secured $1.5 million investment from Accel Partners and Passion Capital, $3.3 million from existing investors in April 2014 and $7 million from Bladerton Capital in January 2014. Besides payments bigwigs like Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, the company’s other competitors include Square, Stripe, Venmo and Dwolla, which like GoCardless is also a player in the European payments market and not built on the existing card network.
UK startup Currency Cloud’s technology and product, Payment Engine by way of an API is the core engine behind services such as Azimo, TransferWise and xe.com and 125 others whose businesses run on the idea of moving money internationally. A B2B enterprise, Currency Cloud’s customers access the services through a single API connection, which connects them to a global banking environment. Currency Cloud has built technology to aid FinTech startups raise money of their own. So while TransferWise raised $58 million and Azimo $20 million, Currency Cloud provided the platform for these businesses to do so. The platform based on new technology is more efficient and lesser error-prone than traditional methods of trading foreign exchange, says the startup. Currency Cloud raised $18 million in a Series C round, which will be used to push its US expansion plan. The recent fundraising comes in addition to funds raised previously which was led by technology investor Sapphire Ventures, Japan’s Rakuten FinTech Fund. Existing investors include Atlas Ventures and Notion Capital, who have increased their investments. Launched in 2012, Currency Cloud processes about $10 billion in a year and targets to hit the $1 billion a month, by end of this year.
Crowd Valley provides a Digital Back Office and public API that powers digital investing and lending applications such as crowd funding, peer to peer investing and lending, real estate and alternative asset marketplaces for financial services professionals.
Figo, the provider of the smart banking API connects to every financial service provider (banks, credit cards, e-wallets.) through one single REST-API!
Gini’s API let businesses to automate painful tasks for their end-users – e.g. in invoice payment, expense tracking or accounting. Gini’s “Magic-As-A-Service” empowers existent Apps and creates radically new use cases based upon documents’ content.
BOKU is an online payments service that allows users pay for virtual and digital goods with their mobile phones. The API allows developers to integrate the BOKU service into their own websites. Consumers can use the API for currency translation in 50 countries. The API can also be used for displaying the language in the visitor’s language.
Handpoint allows developers to be the first to market with the most secure mobile POS solution for enterprise and SMB Merchants, not only micro-merchants. To accomplish this company has developed an API that developers can very easily integrate to their application with the help of few lines of code to create their own mobile point-of-sale system.
Pich is banking and financial data provider. The company organizes, collects and segregates this data for businesses and developers so that they can use it in their services. With the help of Pich’s API, the user can quickly integrate to the banking infrastructure and benefit from the reliable data of these financial institutions.
The Open Exchange Rates API provides users hourly-updated exchange (forex) rates, relative to US dollars in JSON format. The API is free for personal/small-scale use, and extremely cheap for apps, businesses and commercial projects.
Kiva is the world’s first online lending platform connecting online lenders to entrepreneurs all over the world. The Kiva API provides users access to the world’s first peer-to-peer micro-lending website, which allows lenders to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
FintecSystems offers online-banking-based Information- and Payment Services as one single API. It delivers solutions, that support Banks, Payment Service Provider and Online Shops to identify customers, to reduce Credit- and Fraud Risk as well as to pay online with their Online Banking in realtime.
Wirecard is an online payment processing service providing company that offers, personal, prepaid, wireless, and corporate payment services. The Wirecard API is offered as an option for integration in it’s e-commerce payment processing service. The API lets customers to accept and deliver payments, process returns, offer subscription payment systems, and other functions.
payleven offer a mobile SDK and API for iOS and Android that allows other developers to take advantage of its payment infrastructure. In Brazil, EasyTaxi processes all in-app payments via payleven. Another integrator is Nobly, a point-of-sale register company.
The company also allows native app developers to include managing account information, processing payments, and retrieving payment information and turn their native app on every smartphone into a payment device.
eThor connects point-of-sale (POS) systems to the cloud, enabling services such as real-time ordering through Facebook, mobile devices, or third-party websites and applications. The eThor API is designed to let developers build native menu display and ordering experiences into websites and mobile applications. The API is able to retrieve menu information, retrieve or post orders, and access information describing chains and stores.
SumUp is a company that enables merchants to take debit and credit payments with their smartphones. The SumUp API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of SumUp with other applications. Example API methods include managing account information and accepting & processing payments.
The Kash REST API lets developers access and integrate the functionality of Kash with other applications. Some example API methods include retrieving a list of available banks that work with Kash, sending banking credentials and managing transactions. Kash is a mobile payment solution that completely does away with credit cards and middle-men that stand between retailers and bank accounts.
Forte Payment Systems is the leading provider of innovative electronic payment solutions. With approximately 29,000 satisfied merchants and extensive experience in the government, property management and utility sectors, Forte helps organizations of all sizes to manage and perfect their payment operations. The company is small enough to be customer-centered (120 employees) as well as very developer-oriented. Forte offers a broad range of solutions for collecting and sending payments electronically in addition to comprehensive and modern APIs to allow developers to build out additional capabilities.
VP of Sales at Kontomatik Peter Hiekmann presented Konto X at the FinDEVr 2015 in San Francisco, a leading provider of the banking API. Kontomatik shared with LTP the company’s plans to launch operations in three more countries on its way to international expansion. Services provided by the Konto X API are mostly aimed for banks with competitive products, online lenders that are looking to optimize loan-issuing processes and startups that want to build their apps around a supreme technology.
Regalii is a mobile and Web platform that allows facilitates bill payment anywhere in the world. The API enables payments for utilities and services like electricity, water, gas, cell, tuition, health insurance in 10 different countries. Regalii is a graduate of Y-Combinator and has been funded by Mitch Kapor, Winklevoss Capital, Alexis Ohanian, Maverick Capital and Brad Feld.
The @Pay API lets developers create payment methods and transactions with customer email. The API’s functionality includes registering and accepting credit cards as well as providing a signature that can act as a trusted corroboration of the data within the transaction confirmation.
@Pay provides Web and email checkouts for smartphones, computers and tablets. The company says that their two-click checkout process improves conversion and opens new revenue streams for e-marketers, retailers, and e-commerce business owners engaging customers on mobile devices.
The Paynova API supports all aspects of payment processing for online merchants in Europe. The merchant can use the API to create and send invoices, accept payments and issue refunds and process orders. The API exposes services in both REST and SOAP, and accepts requests in XML, JSON, JSV, CSV, or MessagePack. Authentication is done via HTTP Basic Auth. The API by Paynova accepts many different payment methods and currency types.
One bonus API:
Since 1996, Authorize.Net is one of the leading provider of Internet Protocol (IP) based payment gateway services, enabling retailers to authorize, settle and manage credit card and electronic check related settlement from a Web site, merchant store, mail order/telephone order (MOTO) call center or mobile device. With a live internet connection, developers can authorize and process payments through the Authorize.Net API, enabling the ability to emulate an HTML Form Post using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection.