PayPal has officially told the world it will open up its worldwide net payment platform to outside developers, offering a new set of APIs for embedding payment tools into third-party applications and, well, other development platforms.
The eBay-owned outfit calls its new developer offering PayPal X, an homage the original PayPal platform that debuted at X.com in the late 90s. For the past several months, the company has run a closed beta platform with 30 to 40 developers, and today, it opened the beta to about 300 additional developers invited to the official announcement here at eBay headquarters.
"PayPal will be the first and only global payment service open to third-party developers," PayPal president Scott Thompson told the 300. "This means we're now offering tools to give you access to a secure, global, plug-and-play payment solution which can be embedded in whatever you want to do."
On November 3, the company will host a developer conference in San Francisco, and on that day, it will open the beta to developers worldwide. Naturally, the project lives at X.com, where you can now sign up for the beta.
Via the new platform, Microsoft is already working to integrate PayPal services into its Windows Azure development cloud, still in pre-release mode. Microsoft distinguished engineer Yousef Khalidi trumpeted the tie-up at today's event, promising the integration will be complete - and available to developers worldwide - when Azure officially launches.
Khalidi told The Reg that the company will introduce pricing and support models for the service on the day of launch, but that the service may be available to early users before then. In similar fashion, Amazon offers its Flexible Payments Service via its Web Services cloud.
News of PayPal's open platform was leaked earlier this month by the blogger-types TechCrunch. But PayPal didn't release details until today.
Initially, the new platform will offer a set of APIs the company calls "Adaptive Payments Services." In addition to a bread-and-butter Send Money API, this includes tools for splitting payments (so that, say, the developer can take a cut), separating the payment approval process from the payment itself (so that payments can occur offline), and moving payments onto mobiles, game consoles, settop boxes, and other non-PC devices (so that PayPal can paint its new platform as the doorway to net revolution).
"For thirty years, the killer application for electricity was lights, but now, electricity powers everything, and you don't even think about what's behind that power outlet," vp of platform and emerging technology Osama Bedier told gathered developers.
"It's the same thing here. No one thinks about how the internet works anymore. But for it to truly become ubiquitous, we've got to remove the financial barrier, making it easy to make payments from anywhere. And we believe that giving you the keys to our platform will remove that key barrier."
According to Bedier, the company plans to introduce "dozens" of additional APIs over the next year. And during a Q&A session with reporters later in the day, Bedier and president Scott Thompson hinted that at its PayPal X conference in November, the company will unveil some sort of carefully planned effort to perfect that much-discussed online Holy Grail: micropayments.
According to documents shared with TechCrunch, micropayments are part of the Adaptive Payments Service API. And during his initial presentation, Bedier confirmed that everything leaked to TechCrunch was technically accurate - though incomplete. ®