API's March 11, 2018

Things you never knew APIs could do

In today’s day and age, everyone uses Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are the mechanism of communication by which computers and mobile interfaces retrieve information and seamlessly perform a multitude of tasks that most of us take for granted. We touch on some API capabilities that most people didn’t know about with this post.

API capabilities and mobile apps

Don’t believe us? Consider all the apps currently installed on your mobile device. Most of the apps that coexist on our smartphones use a variety of APIs as digital building blocks, allowing users to seamlessly share or retrieve necessary information through different channels without navigating to a different app to accomplish each separate task. Ever been in an app and given the option to share a picture or piece of content via LinkedIn or another social platform? Ever made an in-app purchase from the banking information saved to your mobile account? That connectivity is made possible through APIs.

Taxi apps like Uber and Lyft are prime examples of commonly used apps built upon the successful integration and configuration of many existing APIs. Uber uses various payment APIs to execute, send and receive payments within the app (ensuring that riders can securely input and save their credit card info to their account and allowing Uber to receive payment directly to its connected bank account). Both apps also leverage Google Maps GPS location tracking APIs to give real-time ride updates about a driver’s location, to provide users with accurate wait-time estimates and adjust fares and ride durations based on local traffic and driver saturation.

APIs as building blocks

APIs aren’t only integral to mobile apps. The best APIs are designed to be building blocks upon which other APIs are built. When people talk about the “internet of things,” they’re speaking to this concept of interconnectivity — the idea that all devices will eventually be able to “communicate” seamlessly with one another through APIs. The OnStar app, for example, though initially designed to offer drivers turn-by-turn directions and immediate emergency support in the event of an accident, is now being used by coders as a building block to develop other smart apps for drivers that swap data between the vehicle and the cloud, allowing users to interact with and control their vehicle remotely.

How APIs color the customer experience

For businesses in every industry, APIs are the key to delivering consistent and convenient online customer experiences that meet our modern expectations. Payment APIs are a prime example of how APIs have revolutionized consumer expectations around digital commerce. Different payment APIs are responsible for auto-filling billing information for return customers, verifying payment information before executing a transaction, providing real-time payment status updates and offering live currency exchange rates for cross-border transactions. If you’ve ever attempted to make an online purchase and had the digital shopping cart direct your attention to miskeyed billing or banking information before allowing you to submit the payment, then you’ve witnessed a payment API in action. Before the advent of APIs, the instances of failed payments due to miskeyed numbers or letters were significantly higher, as mistakes were caught further down the line, after a customer had likely already navigated away from the page without realizing anything was wrong.

Today, APIs can not only verify the accuracy of the account information provided but also the validity of the funds in question and identity of the beneficiary, among other things. APIs also offer a higher standard of convenience in the digital age, allowing users to vacillate between desktops and mobile devices and safely saving all their preferences and banking information.

No matter what industry you’re in, APIs are a huge part of what makes the modern customer experience what it is — and an even bigger part of how businesses scale operations while continuing to satisfy growing customer expectations.

To learn more about how payment APIs can streamline your operations and revolutionize your user experience, check out our related article, 8 Common Payment Problems That APIs can Solve.

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