Braintree, the division of PayPal that provides payment services to e-commerce and other online businesses, is making its latest move to help raise its game against competitors like Stripe. It is launching a new solution called Extend, a set of tools to integrate Braintree payments more closely and easily with other services that online companies are using alongside basic transactions.
The set of services that are being launched today include integrating loyalty and reward schemes, adding fraud prevention and ‘contextual commerce’ — or the ability to for a merchant to sell an item and take payment on a platform that is not its own.
Extend is a new solution, but not all parts of it are making their debut. Some of the services, such as the contextual commerce option, were already being offered — this is what is used to power Pinterest’s buyable pins, for example.
The launch of Extend is in keeping with how online commerce is evolving. While Amazon has increasingly become a one-stop shop for some people, we’re also seeing a large proliferation of online companies looking to connect with users wherever they happen to be spending the most time, whether that’s on a social media platform, or on a site that caters to interests adjacent to the businesses’s own — and most importantly not necessarily on the company’s own web properties. That has given rise to demands from merchants to have significantly more flexibility in how and where they can sell goods and services.
Similarly, the fact that there are so many places to buy, and so many people to buy from, has created a much bigger need for companies to figure out the best way of capturing a consumer’s time (and wallet), but also making sure that they are doing this in a way that’s secure and not susceptible to defrauding. All of these are basically edge cases to the core function of selling something, but together, they essentially become an important group of functions that Braintree needs to be able to facilitate better if it hopes to compete.
Indeed, this is also what other payment companies are also increasingly providing to users. Stripe’s “works with” program, for example, is a fairly extensive directory of all the services you can integrate with Stripe’s basic payments offering both to help it all tally up with your back office systems, and to work with other parts of your business.
Braintree is dividing up Extend into three basic categories for now: transaction services, loyalty and reward, and contextual commerce.
Braintree’s business development lead Azita Habibi notes that transaction services focus on back-end functionality that includes being able to run a transaction against a fraud prevention engine, providing a way of efficiently and securely passing payment information into a second database to help increase latency, or merging different payment systems into a single view.
The reward and loyalty program element, meanwhile, is designed to help make it easier for online businesses to work more easily with rewards and loyalty platforms, be they third-party card-based programs, or something that a business is building for itself. “The user’s card information acts as the consumer identifier, and merchants can leverage Braintree Extend to securely share this on the user’s behalf so that purchases are appropriately tracked and rewards accrued,” she notes. Customers already using this include Yelp, which uses Braintree to link up participating merchants with its Yelp Cash Back program to get rebates at the point of sale.
Last of all, contextual commerce — which essentially lets companies embed a check-out in a site or app that is not their own — is meant to be something that helps people buy right when they are considering a purchase. While redirection services may mean you are capturing customers in your own site where you can sell them more, they also lead to a lot of abandonment of sales altogether.