Symon Perriman shares his insights on collaborating with open platforms.
I run a Seattle-based sports tech company called FanWide (http://www.FanWide.com), and we help out-of-market sports fans find a local game watch party or fan club.
We are a for-profit business, but also raise money at some of our events for charities, and we have been looking for a way to make payments through our website easier, using an ecommerce tool like Visa Checkout. Over the past couple months, I have realized the value in collaborating with open platforms.
Digital transformation is not just happening in financial services but across all industries.
Visa is moving from a proprietary to a much more open and collaborative model by enabling capabilities, or decoupling their capabilities to enable traditional partners like merchants and financial institutions, and non-traditional partners like us, FanWide and fintechs, to utilize those capabilities in ways they couldn’t before.
A bit about FanWide
FanWide has a free website and app that uses the world's largest fan club database to help sports fans find a local event at a sports bar for any team in any city and check in for rewards. Fan clubs and alumni associations use FanWide's digital platform to expand their network, organize events, report attendance data, enter contests, and activate deals from the event host or sponsors. FanWide generates revenue from the event hosts (sports bars) and sponsors (sports brands), and in the near future we will be adding a way for fans to donate to a charity or their alumni association. We wanted to find an easy way to do this through our website.
For FanWide, along with most other startups and tech companies that have ecommerce needs, it is helpful to find a payment solution that is an “open platform”. An open platform means that we can place Visa’s payment portal within our own website. This lets us process different types of payments, allowing our developers to focus on their time on features for our core business and build communities through sports.
Here’s why Open Platforms Work
Some of the key benefits of using an open platform like the Visa Developer Platform which are important include:
Platform Compatibility - Open platforms should enable the business to integrate Visa’s software within all of the versions of their website and mobile apps. FanWide supports web, iOS mobile and Android mobile, so it was important for us to find a payment portal that supported all three. If you are a developer, platform compatibility should be the first thing you review.
Trusted Organization – When you include critical business functionality from a technology partner within your website, make sure it is a credible business. The software that your team will be working with needs to be correctly tested, encrypted, and backed by a trusted organization such as Visa. You do not want any illegitimate organizations tampering with the software and stealing your customers’ financial information.
Data Protection – When handing sensitive data, such as credit card or bank account numbers, it is critical to ensure that this information is securely transmitted and stored. All businesses that collect payment information should be payment card industry (PCI) compliant and follow industry-wide best practices. Visa Checkout is PCI compliant, which means that FanWide does not need to encrypt and store this data in our databases, as this sensitive information is handled by Visa and their security experts. This helps our developers by reducing the technical complexity and lowering the development cost of our website. Every developer that uses an open platform should ensure that it compliant within their respective industry, as losing your customer’s data can destroy your business’ reputation.
Ease of Use – Another advantage to using open platforms is that they tend to be well- documented with plenty of code examples. For every third-party solution that FanWide integrates into its website, we take time to ensure that the code is clean and well-tested. This reduces our training, development, and support cost. As any developer can see when reviewing the solutions through the Visa Developer Program, this is no exception, as Visa provides well-engineered code and APIs.
Product Flexibility – FanWide wanted to ensure that we did not restrict our customers’ preferred payment type nor have any vendor lock-in. One initiation hesitation we had when first evaluating Visa Checkout was the common misperception that it would only accept a Visa credit card, but this was quickly dispelled through clear documentation. In addition, if the customer wants to set up a subscription (recurring payment), they can even use an ACH payment from a bank account.
Community Support – Open platforms can usually offer other benefits to developers through having a broad community to support them by answering questions, providing code samples, and otherwise enabling each other to be more successful. This is a great asset when working with third party software companies as most developers do not get direct access to the product team to address their questions. By being able to easily collaborate with other developers through forums or message boards, it lets organizations be more efficient and agile so they can fix bugs faster and get their product to market quicker.
No Cost – As a startup, finding a low (or no) cost solution was also important to FanWide, as it is to most small companies. A majority of open platforms want to encourage adoption so they are affordable to startups. The Visa Checkout APIs are free, making it an attractive solution to organizations of all sizes.
As you can see, open platforms provide a lot of benefits to businesses and developers. The Visa Developer Platform is no exception, as it is supports web and mobile, comes from a trusted organization with data protection, it is easy to use and provides users with flexibility, and it is supported by a community – all for free. Create an account today and start exploring new payment solutions for your app or website.
FanWide needed a way to enable online commerce and Visa Checkout appears to be a great choice to collect payments and charitable donations. Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we’ll explore how Visa Checkout could be integrated into FanWide’s platform to help sports fans wherever they live or travel.
Giveaway details and rules!
Share your thoughts on how you've worked with open platforms by commenting below and you will be placed in a drawing for:
A Visa Developer Patagonia Jacket and
1 Apple TV 4K.
Total Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of all gifts: $280.
Limit one (1) entry. Entry deadline is 12:00 PM PT on September 21, 2018.