PayPal Opens its Platform to Developers
初出：Web Site Expert #36（2011年5月25日発売）
When the auction site eBay acquired the payment processing service PayPal for $1.
“PayPal is widely considered eBay’
Japan is one of those markets, but here, PayPal is a late entry, announcing its Japanese push only in 2010. The delay might well be due to the fact that eBay has not had a Japanese presence. Japan is the first country PayPal has entered on its own, rather than building on eBay’
So what should Japanese Web Site Experts know about PayPal? Two words stand out: PayPal X. Announced in 2009, PayPal X is the company’
“Open development platforms have been among the biggest trends of the last 10 plus years,” said Bill Day, a writer and technology evangelist who regularly posts on the PayPal X DevZone site. But until PayPal X, there had not been a “well-documented, widely available payment system, a one-stop shop for putting payments into your app. PayPal is very seriously attempting to build that one-stop shop and they are doing it in a very open, community-oriented way. They’
Adaptive Payments API
PayPal officially announced the opening of its payment platform to third-party developers on July 23, 2009. The launch included a new developer website with the appropriately geeky URL “x.
The technical flagship for the PayPal X platform is the Adaptive Payments API, which joined a potpourri of legacy developer tools. This overlap of new and old can lead to confusion. Bill Day noted that, for example, PayPal has offered two overlapping technologies: Mobile Express Checkout and Mobile Checkout. The first is the new one. “If you are starting from scratch, make sure you understand what is in the new platform,” Day said. “Adaptive Payments is certainly a big piece of that―there are a number of things you can do with it that you can’
Among other things, Adaptive payments allows developers to control the flow of money between a single payer and one or more recipients. An application using the platform may be part of a website, a widget on a social networking site, or an app on a mobile phone. In a typical PayPal transaction, there is one payer and one receiver, and that’
Another Adaptive Payments feature getting developer attention is preapprovals. These are billing agreements between a seller and buyer--which can be useful before a transaction has taken place. The two parties agree on an amount, but the funds transfer doesn’
Other API operations include the ability to:
- Accept “guest payments”
--credit card payments via customers who don’ t have a PayPal account.
- Refund all or part of a payment.
- Convert currencies.
- Get shipping address information.
- Determine funding sources for a specified payment.
PayPal has also produced mobile libraries for iOS (versions 3.
Early adaptors create “micro-marketplaces”
To get an idea of how developers are using PayPal X, I spoke with some of the winners of the PayPal X Developer Challenge. What’
Appbackr: person-to-person funding
Trevor Cornwell, founder and CEO of the company appbackr inc., is a veteran entrepreneur, and is now in the business of funding other entrepreneurs. Appbackr is a wholesale digital marketplace. A developer sells an app on the appbackr marketplace. Appbackr purchases some of these applications in bulk, then receives a portion of the profits, via PayPal, as the application gets sold. This automatic distribution of funds to multiple parties is a key feature of the Adaptive Payments API.
“The Adaptive Payments API is brilliant,” Cornwell says. “There is a lot of excitement around disruptive business models, and one of the best ways to destruct a business model is to be able to take it apart and then put it back together again. The PayPal X platform does exactly that because it allows one payment to be distributed to many, either concurrently or in parallel.” Today, says Cornwell, the e-commerce follows a consignment model. “You take your wares to a store, and hope that they sell. That approach works well for big companies with multiple revenue streams, but for smaller developer shops it is not as appealing because it puts all of the risk and burden on them. Our model is the first cut at simplifying the process for the developer and ultimately allowing him to get to more marketplaces at the right price.”
Cornwell said that PayPal’
Cornwell also likes PayPal’
In developing the application, appbackr opted for Adaptive Payment’
Two developers, one in the U.
Rentalic: person-to-person renting
Appbackr was one of the two first-place winners of the 2010 PayPal Developer Challenge. The other was Rentalic, which used the PayPal X platform to create a rental marketplace service. The company “helps the people who need stuff connect with the people who have stuff." Rentalic’
“When we first went into development, PayPal was the only payment system that was making an API available to do the thing we wanted to do: namely, create a tailor-made payment system that helps enable person-to-person renting,” he said. “This is ecommerce, but a specific kind of ecommerce, because it requires an additional layer of trust.” In the Rentalic business model, two people meet, exchange an item, then meet again and exchange it back. In the first case, the condition of the item must be as advertised. In the second case, the condition must be the same. People being what they are, this is a scenario ripe for disputes, and Abeywickrema knew from the outset that dispute resolution was imperative.
Abeywickrema came up with scheme that uses the PayPal Adaptive Payments operation for preapproval, thereby ensuring that funds are available both for the renter’
Abeywickrema developed the application using the Ruby library. “We had a steep learning curve, but once of we got the hang of it, development was pretty fast: about two to three weeks of work to test and get the whole thing working. Having the platforms opening up the APIs gives huge, huge flexibility to the developer community. I see much innovation happening in the next few years in the payment space because of this. Now everybody is jumping on the bandwagon―MasterCard and Visa included―because they see that this open approach as the way to go.”
Kabbage: credit evaluation program in six months
Appbackr connects app developers with investors. Rentalic connects loaners with renters. Kabbage connects online merchants with funders. As its website puts it, “we recognize that online merchants have a more difficult time obtaining the funding they need to grow their businesses and we built a solution to meet their needs. These merchants demand the attention of a financial services partner that understands the unique challenges and opportunities facing online sellers.”
Kabbage has automated much of the process. Customers agree to an automatic billing agreement, and then get funded immediately. The process for new customers averages about eight minutes. “We look at how long they’
Frohwein said that PayPal’
Kabbage uses both eBay and PayPal APIs to look at transaction data, seller ratings, and other data that can open a window on a company’
Kabbage started building its app using SOAP right after the 2009 platform introduction. “We were trying to make calls with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, which was in beta,” said Clark. “That meant we had a new Microsoft framework calling a new PayPal framework. It was rough getting started, and we found many pain points that had not been uncovered by others. But now, the Adaptive Payments documentation is much fuller, and there’
After the development team got going, it took just a month or so to incorporate the PayPal API connectors. “Basically, two guys--myself and another developer--cranked out the entire platform in six months,” Clark said. That’
Plastic Jungle: Money transfers in seconds
Plastic Jungle bills itself as the Web's largest secured gift card exchange. People with gift cards redeemable at one store can exchange them for gift cards redeemable somewhere else. The site was launched in 2007 and has had three rounds of venture funding. “PayPal X provided just the right APIs for us to securely and instantly load money into a consumer’
A customer first submits the card’
“We leverage two parts of the PayPal X platform, Adaptive Accounts and Adaptive Payments. Adaptive Accounts API gives us verified status, that is, a handle on the status of the customer account. And we leverage Adaptive Payments, to do the actual funds transfer from our account to the consumer’
Plastic Jungle has also used the Facebook Credits API, as well, enabling the company to load money into a customer’
- Sidebar - Bill Day: “A critical component of the Web programming stack”
As a contributor to the PayPal X DevZone blog, Bill Day has found a good perch from which to watch platform developments. Here’
s more from our conversation:
- I’ve spoken with some advanced platform developers. What’
s the reaction of people who are less far along?
In the last year, I’
ve tried to explore every nook and cranny of the platform--and while the x. com site has lots of documentation, I’ ve seen some criticism that there are so many parts. PayPal has tried to build a system with the community that addresses payments anywhere you would need them. But as they have done so, certain components are older technology and certain components are shiny and brand new, and at times there have been inconsistencies or areas that were confusing to understand. And there has been criticism that the documentation and the how tos and tutorials were not all up to the same level. This is why myself and others are involved in writing for the site. We are trying to fill in some gaps so that when newcomers look at the platform, they can see each of the major pieces and how they fit together and how to start using them.
From my perspective, that’
s the biggest issue. Developers had told tell me that they know the documentation is there, but finding the right thing that they need to solve their problem quickly has been the sticking point.
- What do you suggest for developers new to the platform?
If you are starting from scratch, make sure you understand what is in the “new” platform―what are the consistent ways of doing things. Adaptive Payments is certainly a big piece of that―there are a number of things you can do with it that you couldn’
t do with any previous PayPal technology. There are other areas where you may not need the flexibility of Adaptive Payments, and you can use a simpler approach with some of the older, but still good, technologies. That might be the case if you are just embedding payment technologies into a Web application. But in general, if a person is coming to this new or is building a new application, Adaptive Payments in the place to start. It makes sense. In a lot of places it will map to their problem, and in many cases may be the only way to go.
- People seem to be forging brand new kinds of payments using Adaptive Payments.
I think that’
s one of the brilliant things about Adaptive Payments. What if you gave people the tools to move money around in a secure way? Could we enable completely new businesses that no one has thought of before? To me, that’ s what Adaptive Payments is about. PayPal is giving you this flexible toolkit, and they’ ve made a point of saying that developers will have a lot of ideas that they, PayPal, has never thought of--and will try to make Adaptive Payments flexible enough so you can turn those ideas into working applications.
- Have you seen any evidence that PayPal has has been adding onto the APIs?
There have been some tweaks, including at least one round of smaller changes that seem based on developer feedback. So yes, they are iterating and updating the platform, with updates made every month or two. They are going to a lot of third party developers and conferences. Every two weeks or so Google will have one, Yahoo! will have a developer event, and some are local, some in Boston, New York City, London. They are actively trying to go where the developers are rather than expect the developers to come to them. They are walking the walk of trying to engage with the community, wherever it is.
- Where do you think this is all headed?
I think PayPal has succeeded in becoming an ever more critical component of the Web programming stack. They are becoming the default piece if a developer wants to include payments of any kind. That’
s the first place you go, the first place you think of. They are getting themselves into position where they are the gatekeeper for money flowing in and out of applications. For me, or any third party developer, that means you will need to understand their platform, because they will be processing so many of the Web’ s transactions.
A few years ago, a lot of Web builders put off discussing payments, saying they will worry about that later. Now that has reversed, with many developers are saying right up front that they have to think about what kind of payment is the client going to be interested in accepting--and putting those considerations into the design from the beginning.