Among the stars of the payments technology revolution are the 'do it yourself' tools that allow retailers who aren't programmers to build their own online storefronts and checkout pages.
But despite the many big companies opening their programming tools to external developers and merchants, the market for application programming interfaces (APIs), software development kits (SDKs) and other user-friendly technology is just getting started, according to Michael Phillippi, marketing manager for Clearent.
"There's massive trend of new software that allows people to plug payments into it," Phillippi said. "It's a huge market and there are multiple players going after it, and there' still opportunity."
Clearent, a Clayton, Mo.-based technology company that offers APIs and other merchant services tools, is digging deeper into this new economy by developing what it calls hosted payment buttons.
The technology allows retailers to embed payment functions without redesigning their websites from the ground up. Clearent's platform moves the payments outside of the merchant's PCI security scope, and the buttons can be deployed with a "few lines of code," Phillippi said. "They can be used for e-commerce or mobile app or web app use…anywhere a developer wants to take a payment."
Clearent is targeting businesses such as medical and legal offices, or other companies that are not focused entirely on e-commerce but still require a website that can accommodate single-click payments.
"There is a proliferation of 'buy buttons' but there is room for more, for any merchant that wants to have them," said Andy Schmidt, an executive advisor at CEB. "It's removing friction and impulse control. If the consumers has to take something out like a wallet or a phone they may decide not to buy something."
And while there is also a proliferation of APIs and other open technology tools, there is a need, particularly among smaller business, Schmidt said.
"Given the percentage of electronic transactions that get lost in the process, anything that simplifies e-commerce is going to be helpful, and can put the mom and pop stores on more equal footing," Schmidt said.
Clearent's hosted buttons are part of a differentiation play for the company, which also offers a WordPress plug-in, API and integrations to other e-commerce platforms and an online store management system called OpenCart. The company charges fees based on breadth of use, and it also targets third party sellers such as ISOs and agents with a bundled mix of services designed for easy deployment.
"We're an end to end processor and not a one size fits all payments interface," Phillippi said.
Clearent is among a growing list of companies, diverse by size and core business, that are providing technology that users can self-deploy to add payments, digital commerce, merchant services or omnichannel shopping. Visa recently opened its technology to external developers, and PayPal's acquisition of Braintree three years ago was largely due to PayPal's wish to improve its ability to collaborate with third parties. .
There are also technology companies that focus specifically on providing businesses with e-commerce tools, such as Stripe, which has made substantial inroads in offering payments to social networks, Dwolla and WePay, which has extended its technology to accommodate merchants that sell across borders.