Square Aims for Stripe with E-Commerce API

Square today launched the Build with Square program, a series of tools it hopes will convince independent businesses to join Square's payment Platform. At the core of Build with Square are new APIs that make it possible to bring e-commerce to websites quickly and cheaply. 

Of the new APIs, the E-Commerce API is most significant. With it, sellers can rely on Square to process checkout payments made through the seller's self-hosted website. The E-Commerce API is Square tackling competitor Stripe head-on. Retailers can track and manage all sales, whether online or in-store, from a single dashboard. The API can be especially beneficial to small businesses that don't have the time or resources to create their own billing system. The E-Commerce API makes PCI compliance easy, as customer credit card data never touches the website. It includes subscription tools, delivers fast deposits, and helps handle chargebacks. 

Square says retail websites need only include a small JavaScript Library, hosted by Square, that embeds the credit card form. Shoppers fill in their credentials and initiate the payment. The website then creates a one-time token to authorize the transaction, pushing the credit card data directly to the Charge Endpoint. Retailers can use their own, favorite REST library for this, or rely on one supplied by Square. The payment is processed by Square, which then returns the results to the site and displays them to the buyer. The number of steps involved for developers is minimal.

The second big piece of Build with Square is the Register API. This tool users inter-app communication (one app talking to another) to let iOS native or Web apps open the Square Register app to process payments. Any point-of-sale can accept customized payments via Square. It works with Square's hardware solutions to accept EMV payments and Apple Pay. Developers need only add nine lines of code to integrate Square into the checkout processor. Like the E-Commerce API, the Register API enables PCI compliance and scales for small and large businesses alike. The Register API requires a little bit more work to use, according to Square. For example, developers need to define a customer URL scheme, define a Callback URL, and register the app with Square. Square suggests developers use the Square Register iOS SDK -- which available under an Apache 2.0 license from GitHub -- to help manage the process. 

Both the Register and E-Commerce APIs share the same transparent pricing that Square charges for all transactions.

Stripe offers a similar set of APIs to help developers power in-app purchases. Square has found favor with small businesses thanks to its inexpensive and simple payment terminals. Adding support for online payments within apps and websites gives Square a competitive edge.  



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