Choosing a payments solution — and a payments partner — is a critical decision for ISVs or software developers ready to integrate payments with their software applications. The choice you make will define the features and functionality your end users have and, ultimately, how much value the payments solution adds to your software. Your decision will also determine your fate when it comes to the time and resources you need to integrate with the payments platform.
To help guide your decision, Lauren Olechna, Director of ISV for First American Payment Systems, shares her advice for vetting a payments platform, asking the right questions, and watching for red flags in these five areas.
Investigate the Feature Set
An obvious place to start when you’re looking for a payments solution is to understand its capabilities. If you’re truly doing your due diligence when it comes to vetting the feature set of a payments platform, however, you’ll do more than compare checklists of solution haves and have nots.
“You need to base your decision on your customers’ requirements and whether the solution provides a seamless, low-stress experience for end users,” Olechna says. She strongly advises demoing the solution, allowing you to put yourself in the merchant’s and end users’ shoes. “With a demo, you get the look and feel of the platform and the flow of payment transactions for users,” she says. “For merchants, make sure it provides them with enough data to inform, but not so much data that it overwhelms them.”
Olechna suggests looking for a payments company that white labels its partners’ applications for demonstrations, providing context and giving you an example of how the solution could work with your software.
Gauge Ability to Survive the Future
Another facet of a payments solution that you need to consider is whether it will provide your clients with the functionality they need in the future.
“Think about how you spent money this week,” Olechna says. “Did you use an Apple Watch or make a one-click payment on Amazon? Will the payments solution you’re considering have the ability to survive what the future brings?”
Smart software developers ask to see a roadmap that shows the payments company’s plans for enhancing or expanding features and capabilities. “Payments are changeable in nature,” Olechna comments. “Ask the right questions so you can be assured that your integration won’t ‘expire’ when the industry changes.”
She cautions that what the company isn’t willing to share with you about their plans for the future can also be telling. The company should be transparent about its roadmap when speaking with a potential integration partner.
Evaluate Developer Support
Expect the payments company to give you a clear picture of the integration process and a good estimate of the time it will take. Olechna says payments companies should be able to provide you with timelines for integration with each of its products. “If you can acquire that document, you can see a projection of what your project’s timeline will be,” she says.
Olechna reminds software developers as you evaluate a payments solution and ask about the terms of a partnership with a potential partner, “the company is vetting you as well. As you talk about your concerns, if they’re not asking their own questions, they’re probably not as excited about the partnership as you are.”
It’s also wise to speak with the payments company’s other software developer partners. “Everyone experiences integration ups and downs. It helps to talk to other people who’ve been through the process so you can prepare your team for what to expect,” Olechna says. “When you’re buying a car, you look for reviews from other owners. You want to make sure you’re buying a Tesla and not a DeLorean.”
Research Success Delivering End User Support
Inadequate support for users will reflect poorly on your company whether the issue is related to your application or to integrated payments. Watch for red flags as you speak with your potential payments partner about their track record of providing end user support.
In addition to asking the right questions when you talk to your potential payments partner, Olechna suggests you do some independent research. Ask for references, but also talk to partners you’ve identified on your own and research feedback posted on social media or other sites.
She adds that your own experiences with the company will provide you with a glimpse into what your users can expect. “We’ve had many developers come to us in the middle of an integration with another platform because the support they were receiving was so poor. It convinced them of how the company would treat merchants when they needed support,” Olechna comments.
Is It Better to Go With Tried and True — or New?
Olechna adds that although some software developers are prone to favor established companies to form partnerships with, this isn’t always the best strategy for payments.
“The payments industry is growing and changing constantly,” she says. “Yet a lot of companies are doing the same things they’ve done for decades. You don’t need ‘tried and true.” You need a company with energy and creativity that really cares about your product. Look for excitement rather than tenure.”