Amidst all of the complexities that e-commerce businesses have in completing or accepting cross-border payments, PayU says the application programming interface (API) can make the biggest difference.

The Netherlands-based online payment service provider will partner with Zooz, a payment gateway and routing provider for cross-border commerce, to bring a single-app option to its merchants.

"It sounds simple to have one very strong API, but it is not," said Matthias Setzer, chief commercial officer at PayU. "A reason we made this partnership with Zooz was to provide one strong API access, an easy technical access, to enable payments in all of these markets."

Matthias Setzer, chief commercial officer at PayU
Matthias Setzer, chief commercial officer at PayU

At their cores, PayU is a business-to-business payments provider, while Zooz assures that merchants can easily adapt to various payments currencies and methods.

PayU has had various irons in the fire the past few months, making an investment in German startup Kreditech to offer instant lending at the point of sale through its network, while also establishing consumer-facing mobile wallets in markets in India and Poland.

But its partnership with Tel Aviv-based Zooz indicates the company is prepared to grow in its current markets through the single-API format.

"If you don't have an API finely tuned to the specific use case, that API can become overly complex and difficult to use," said Tim Sloane, director of emerging technologies advisory services for Boston-based Mercator Advisory Group. "In essence, you have to think about when it is the right time to try to put all of the functionality into a single API."

When done properly, "it's an art," Sloane said. "It all has to do with the use case, and when that use case shifts, the API has to shift and you have to understand the impact it will have on the back end of the business."

In doing that, PayU says it is taking the pressure off merchants who previously would have to establish relationships and apps for card payments, bank payments, or cash payments with different providers.

With a test of access to the Zooz Smart Routing network within the PayU payment app finishing up this year, the companies are looking to provide one cross-border payment infrastructure to PayU's clients in emerging, high-growth markets.

That process will allow merchants and their customers to choose the currency in which they want to accept or make payments, and be confident that the entire process will be far easier, Setzer added.

PayU rides heavily on its local relationships with banks, regulators and other partners in their markets, making it easier for its customers to overcome the issue of not always trusting other companies or banks to handle cross-border payments accurately, Setzer added.

But PayU and Zooz face other challenges besides technological complexities.

"Currency acceptance and settlement still has much work that needs to be accomplished, and we all know we have to keep working on risk management solutions," Setzer said.

In addition, PayU has developed a keen interest in blockchain technology, waiting to identify when the distributed ledger system common with bitcoin becomes more mainstream in payments, he added.

Investors gave Zooz an initial boost in 2013, when the company sought to establish itself as a provider of mobile payment technology, specifically acceptance and handling of payments across all mobile devices.

Mostly, it found its niche in providing proprietary algorithms that route transactions to the optimal acquirer as a way to reduce decline rates and lower transaction costs for merchants. Its growth ultimately led to opening offices in New York and London.

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