Skip to content

Payment API guide for your small business

Written by

Last editedJune 20233 min read

Online commerce is big business worldwide, forecast to reach over 12 trillion AUD by 2026 at a growth rate of 56%. It’s now more common for any small business to have a website than not, but is yours set up to take payments? If not, you’ll need the right payment APIs. A payment API helps give you and your customers a smooth online checkout experience, but how do they work? In this guide, we’ll discuss how payment API integration works and how to get started.

What is a payment API?

Before diving into the best payment APIs, it’s helpful to unpack this term. API stands for application programming interface, describing the pathway used to enable computers to communicate with one another. It’s estimated that over 80% of web traffic at any given time is APIs communicating with one another. The API is the interface that acts as a touchpoint between two different apps.

Payment APIs provide the mechanism or pathway needed for a website to accept payments by enabling communication between the various parties involved. These parties include entities like the ecommerce platform, payment processor, payment gateway, and billing apps, among others.

The best payment APIs are customisable, allowing businesses to integrate them seamlessly into an existing website. You’ll be able to tweak the API to provide your customers with the best possible payments experience.

What does an online payment API do?

When you integrate an online payment API into your business website, it links your customer’s form of payment to the appropriate merchant. This is what allows communication and transfer of funds to take place over a payment gateway.

There are many functions provided by payment APIs, depending on the one you choose.

  • Perform currency exchange

  • Track orders in real time

  • Integrate multiple payment options into one checkout form

  • Set up recurring or subscription payments

  • Facilitate instant settlement

  • Issue refunds back to the customer

What are the benefits of a payment API?

There are many reasons to consider payment API integration. They give you the framework needed to accept a variety of payment methods, allowing you to better cater for your customer’s preferences. They also automate the payment process, saving you time that would be spent manually processing orders.

The best payment APIs are fully secure, complying with all local and international regulations for payment standards. This includes things like PCI DSS standards, ASC 606, and tax laws depending on your location. A good online payment API will use tokenization and encryption to keep sensitive financial data safe.

While you can build your own payments platform from scratch, most small business owners don’t have the time, money or know-how to do this. Instead, using a payment API gives you an out-of-the-box solution with a high degree of customisation potential. APIs are designed to integrate right into your existing accounting and software platforms to streamline workflows.

How to choose the best payment API

Of course, not all payment APIs provide the same tools and features so it’s important to compare these carefully. To begin with, look at the features to see if they stack up with your website or business needs. Will you be able to support the type of payment your customers expect? Can they support cross-border payments?

Pricing is also a factor to consider when choosing a payment gateway. Some APIs charge a basic flat rate or subscription fee for use, while others take a percentage of each transaction. Is there a contract involved? What are the payment terms and conditions?

Don’t forget about integration potential. As mentioned above, one of the greatest benefits of using a payments API is that it integrates with your existing platforms and processes. Make sure the interface is not only user-friendly, but also easy to integrate with your website. Do you need specialist development knowledge or have coding experience? Are tutorials offered to help you get started?

Three payment API examples

While there are dozens of APIs out there to help you collect payments, here are three of the best payment APIs in Australia.

1. Stripe

Stripe Payments offers an all-in-one payment processing service that works in multiple countries. Users benefit from the ability to take secure payments in different currencies. Stripe offers documentation in numerous programming languages, with a feature-rich interface and high level of customisation. This can be a tricky one to get started with if you don’t have access to a developer, however.

2. Adyen

Another top option is Adyen, a global payment processor best for companies dealing with high volumes of international transactions. Adyen’s toolkit includes numerous APIs, integrations, and feature-rich services. Highlights include risk management and fraud prevention tools to keep your customers safe. One thing to note is that Adyen supports numerous payment types but is considered a card-first company, so may not be sufficient for direct debit and alternative payment forms.

3. GoCardless

Finally, GoCardless offers a user-friendly payment API allowing you to collect payments from over 30 countries from a single integration. The service includes client libraries in multiple programming languages including .NET, PHP, Java, Ruby, and Python. End-to-end testing is available in a free sandbox environment, making it easy to develop, integrate, and test to get everything just right.

Perfect for recurring and one-off payments, GoCardless is a great fit for any small business. With our global bank-to-bank network, you’ll cut down on international transaction fees to keep costs low when doing business abroad. The GoCardless API is fully GDPR compliant and ISO27001 certified to meet global standards, setting your business up for success.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

Sign upLearn More

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up