The definition of the word “extend” means to stretch out or lengthen one’s reach. It turned out to be the perfect word to describe Braintree’s newest suite of merchant solutions, Braintree’s Azita Habibi told Karen Webster in a recent conversation.
Braintree Extend, which launches today, makes it possible for merchants to extend their reach into other ecosystems and environments and to share payments data in a secure, compliant way. Those ecosystems and environments might include new content and contextual platforms where consumers are looking for things to buy, or where merchants want to partner with a third party to bolster their back-office operations, such as security.
Braintree Extend, Habibi explained, provides a smooth, secure exchange of payments data across a wide variety of use cases where such exchanges are helpful.
Habibi said the genesis was the realization on the part of merchants that partnering is essential to their success. Increasingly, in the mobile/digital age, one’s fortunes in the marketplace aren’t really decided by a firm’s ability to be an island of abilities unto itself — but is instead determined by how successfully firms can make and maintain the right partnerships to gain strategic advantage.
Although partnerships may vary in size, scope and purpose, Habibi said Braintree, a division of PayPal, has learned that they all have two things in common.
The first is that they need a mechanism that allows the exchange of secure, tokenized payments data.
The second is that no merchant wants to build and maintain that secure, PCI-compliant payment infrastructure. Merchants want to sell things, not become payments experts first in order to do that in a digital world.
Powering Truly Powerful Partnerships
Braintree Extend, Habibi noted, is particularly well-suited for three broad merchant use cases: transactions, loyalty/rewards and contextual commerce.
Each of those use cases, she pointed out, spawn a variety of specific variations on that theme.
For example, Braintree Extend makes it possible for ticket seller Vivid Seats to minimize fraud by enabling the secure, tokenized sharing of data with a fraud detection partner service provider that specializes in ticketing.
Braintree Extend also helps to power Yelp Cash Back, Yelp's card-linked loyalty program. Deployed with thousands of merchants, users sign up with Yelp and receive real-time cash rebates at the point of sale when dining and shopping with participating merchants.
“We are seeing that this [loyalty] use case is becoming very popular very fast,” Habibi said. “I think you see merchants hit a certain scale, and then the question becomes how do we reach our customers and keep them more involved. That is a big effort, and merchants want to be able to partner with the best-in-breed loyalty platforms or connect directly themselves to the card networks. We make it possible to make those connections and really spin them up fast.”
The Evolving Future
“Everyone is competing for everyone these days,” Webster noted as the interview was coming to an end — a fact Habibi readily agreed with, noting that as Braintree Extend was evolving, it became quickly apparent that it needed to give merchants the ability to customize the toolset to their known and soon-to-be-discovered use cases without asking them to spend days, hours, weeks or months building to it and integrating with it.
Habibi said keeping user data secure and more portable is the core of the Braintree mission to support its merchant partners. Merchants who’ve used Braintree Extend said it gives them the degrees of freedom needed to think about their businesses in new and different ways — not just solving an immediate business need, but exploring new use cases that now don’t have to factor in the time, cost and expertise needed to enable the compliant and secure exchange of payment data.
“At the end of the day, it is their data, and [merchants] should be able to use it and make decisions about how they might want to use it as they choose,” Habibi said. “Once our merchant partners are given a solution like this, they immediately find other cases to bring their businesses to life that we didn’t even think of. I expect a year from now we’ll have even more use cases to talk about.”