I now stood before a new human. This one did not seem quite as enthusiastic to be there as the previous one, but safe in the knowledge I could finally get my £10 with a choccy bonus, I pressed on and made my request. “Sure, I can do that on this till” was the response, with a smile I placed my goods on the counter. “That will be £10.75 with £10 cash back”. No problem, I grinned as I waved my phone over the contactless payment pad, beep… no sale. “Can you pop your card in?” No, I do not have a card, I have a phone with my cards in my digital wallet. My grin faded. Yes, I can pay with my Phone. I could walk out of the shop having bought hundreds of pounds worth of yummy chocolatey goodness, but I was not walking out with a £10 note. Contactless cashback is not allowed. Some rule says you need your physical card. No card. No £10.
The universe had decided that Saturday was not going to be my day. With this dawning realisation I left the shop, gave up and drove the 20 mins home, found my cash card, drove to a bank that was open, and returned with £10 to the now grateful Ian.
What has this got to do with Application Interfaces, aka APIs, I hear you ask? APIs provide a means for different systems to exchange data. Ian could be considered an outdated API (Sorry Ian, no offence meant!) and my phone provided a whole host of new APIs (Digital Wallet, PayPal, Apple Pay) – all perfectly capable of exchanging data or in this case money. But it was not straightforward, just because you have an API does not mean you can exchange data with another system. Very often you need a bit in the middle, something and often someone, to make the data from one system’s API fit the other to work out the exchange. In my case, I needed to convert £10 digital currency on a phone to a £10 physical token, but the APIs could not talk to one another without human intervention. So, when you ask your software vendor the question, “Can this system be integrated” and the answer is “Yes, we have an API”, always remember that Great Software Alone Is Not Enough.
Jason Moore, CEO of Hark Solutions