We’ve all been using our credit cards to make online purchases for the better part of the last fifteen years. There’s a general workflow we’ve all come to expect - you add items to your virtual cart, fill out a form with all of your personal information and then cross your fingers in hoping the transaction went through successfully. Moments later an e-mail confirmation seals the deal and you wait to receive your shipment. This general workflow and process has mostly remained unchanged over this entire decade plus period; an eternity in the realm of innovation.
The biggest news to hit September in the payment industry was the introduction of Apple Pay alongside the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Both of which are Apple’s first smartphones to feature NFC (Near Field Communication) enabling iPhone users to pay for their goods by just using their smartphones. While Google Wallet and other services have existed for some time, many believe mass adoption will now start to take place thanks to Apple’s partnerships with large banks like Chase and Citibank.
APIs are accelerating the use of Apple Pay and payment integrations. Social media is the next venture to capture your hard earned dollar. If the process is simplified and easy whilst still being secure, why not?
Facebook Buy Button
Stripe is a 150-person startup and its entire business model revolves around easily integrating and accepting payments via APIs They have partnered with Facebook to allow for quick and easy purchasing right on Facebook. With this new integration and partnership, Facebook will empower their users to purchase goods directly through their newsfeed with an integrated “Buy” button. Just as one would “Like” a particular story, through the use of Stripe’s APIs and the new “Buy” button, a user can purchase goods without ever leaving their respective newsfeed.
Twitter Buy Button
Without any surprise, Twitter is also incorporating this level of integration into its timeline. Again, users will have the ability to purchase goods directly through their Twitter feed without ever having to leave the app. Much like the setup process for Apple Pay, a user would setup their payment preferences one time, and then have the ability to quickly purchase items available in their respective feeds without having to enter in all of their information and go through the now-archaic workflow of online transactions.
Further demonstrating how APIs are being used to provide new innovative ways to buy things online, Amazon has unveiled a new interesting concept through the use of a hashtag on Twitter. Basically, if you’re browsing through Twitter and come across a product or item you’d like to purchase, you can Reply to that tweet with the hashtag, #AmazonCart and it will be automatically added to your Amazon shopping cart. While this still plays into the model of going to Amazon and performing a checkout, it accelerates the notion of seeing a product you want via social media and being able to successfully purchase it through a trusted vendor. I’m sure Amazon will want to one day include their 1-click Buy it Now option with Twitter as well. Perhaps we’ll see that partnership open up as well.
Many of these payment integrations aim to make the entire process easier. Historically, one would have to sign up to become an authorized merchant for the respective credit card companies, and then manually setup the workflow and processes to ensure they were PCI Compliant, securely obtained all the necessary payment information and correctly handle payments along with any errors that may occur in the form. Stripe, Braintree (PayPal), Google Wallet, and now Apple Pay are looking to disrupt the payment space.
Factoring in the Internet-of-Things and having a connected everything, perhaps more devices and appliances can incorporate “Buy” buttons of their own. With the use of the appropriate APIs and the necessary up-front validation of authorizing payments, the potential increases tenfold for ease and smart purchasing. An example could be when your cat’s dry-food auto-feeder reaches below a certain level, more food could be ordered automatically. Or, consequently the device could notify you on your smartphone that the food has run low immediately followed by a “Buy More” button to re-purchase another bag of dry-food.
This opens up opportunities for healthcare as your provider could opt for you to purchase prescription-based medicine through a mailed prescription system versus going to the local drugstore via their smartphone app. The app could potentially keep track of when you’ve been prescribed new medicine and again – just a simple click of “Fill” or “Refill” button could be used to streamline this entire process. Not only would you be getting insurance approved meds, but all of the transactional work would be taken care of removing the hassle of figuring out who paid what and where.