Readers Respond: Will Open Platforms Drive Innovation in Payments?

The community had some strong reactions to the Lydian Journal article “The Year of APIs and the Reshaping of the Payment Ecosystem” by Patrick Gauthier, Head of Market Intelligence at PayPal.

Below, readers sound off on the extent to which open API platforms will help lead to next-generation payment solutions and if PayPal really is the API leader.


“Patrick not only includes a pithy history of payments industry development, but also refreshingly unfurls a future path unlittered with the usual cliched predictions about mobile and social. This is truly a geekdom-view of the amazing confluence of technology and money that we hold so dear to our hearts, but also a world where collaboration and crowds can converge” – Chuck Phipps, AAP, CTP


“APIs supported by knowledgeable people are the key to attracting innovators. Very few payment networks make the effort.

The king of APIs is of course PayPal, but they also partially compete with other innovators and are known to turn down requests for API support when they smell something they could do themselves.There were some announcements earlier this year about networks preparing APIs. I registered to receive updates from MasterCard back in June following their API announcement. I still have to receive any reply. Visa does not seem to have initiatives except perhaps around its Cybersource / services, but nothing openly available yet that I know of.

The ACH network remains difficult to access. To start with, the protocol has major holes, like the lack of account authentication. Most ODFIs and RDFIs that operate on top of ACH do not have APIs, or maybe they hide them carefully. As far as I can tell, my own company, Plastyc, is still the only prepaid card program manager with published APIs for card enrollment and account consultation.

Come on, payment industry, we can do a lot better than that!” – Patrice Peyret


“Great in-depth article! PayPal, however, is just now catching up with the rest of the payments industry who have been providing open APIs and all types of developer support for quite awhile. Although a very heavy force in the online payments industry (historically and somewhat currently) I am unsure if they will be able to keep pace with the smaller leaner platforms and gateways.” – Zac Ebrams


“Patrick paints a most enlightened picture of the factors facing our economy as we look to how technology and the way people interact/morph through the use of social networks, and in particular how payments the key to commerce must expand to include more and more information against a cleaner and more secure means of assuring the identity of the participants.

All driven by our search for ways of binding buyers to particular sellers.

The one insight that I ponder is the reality that openness in a competitive and shareholder-driven economy will always assure us that the participants will focus on their own interests and profit drivers.

The power of Brand will still be a critical factor in tomorrow’s world. MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, AT&T, Verizon, Bank of America, Chase, Intel, Microsoft, and Apple are all brands that have established themselves in our minds, each with characteristics that focus our mind on their value to us.

So how do we achieve the lofty goals that Patrick points to? Who are the participants in defining the standards and specifications that will assure success and how do these stakeholders find profit, and therefore motivation, to work together?

No matter what anyone says, in the end, investment must be made, and infrastructure must be installed or adapted. Without an ROI, change will be delayed until profit can be anticipated.” – Philip Andreae

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