Mobile

Uber is the first company to show how far PayPal’s mobile developer kit has come

paypal booth logo
Image Credit: LizWise/Flickr

PayPal has been talking about improving its mobile developer tools for months, but today, we finally get a chance to see it all in action in Uber’s latest mobile apps.

Uber, the on-demand taxi alternative, is the first to implement PayPal’s latest mobile SDK, enabling customers to pay for Uber rides from their PayPal accounts with ease. Now, PayPal appears as another payment option in Uber’s iPhone and Android apps, and you can sign in to your PayPal account without leaving them.

Prior to the new mobile SDK, you would have to sign in to your PayPal account in a separate screen, which would then redirect you to a mobile app or site to complete your purchase. By simplifying that experience (PayPal loves to use the word “frictionless” these days), more consumers may end up choosing to sign in with PayPal rather than plugging in their credit card information into a new app or mobile site.

“For us, [the new mobile SDK] was all about making sure that we put all the dialogs into the context of the app, no more redirects,” said Stan Chudnovsky, PayPal’s head of growth and special operations, in an interview with VentureBeat.

PayPal wouldn’t reveal how much it’s charging Uber per transaction (which would be useful information for future developers hoping to adopt this new SDK), but Chudnovsky said that the company will reveal more details about those charges once its acquisition of the payment processor Braintree closes. Uber is one of Braintree’s many customers, so it also made for an interesting test case for PayPal’s new developer tools.

PayPal was actually the first financial services company to provide a mobile API back in 2009, but with young upstarts like Stripe and Dwolla around, PayPal’s original tools looked archaic.

“It was confusing and cumbersome for developers to tie in [to the old APIs],” PayPal chief technology officer James Barrese told VentureBeat in an interview back in March. “Our new API is a REST model, so it’s a very simple and intuitive way for an engineer to integrate with us. Over the years, PayPal [has] introduced different APIs to devs; now we have a chance to look and see what they really need.”

So what took the company so long to bring someone aboard it’s new SDK? “We had to rebuild our payment platform in the background to enable the SDK to be that friendly,” Chudnovsky said. “There are multiple layers in payment systems like PayPal. … You have to do all sorts of magic behind the scenes, and that backend needs to support the simplicity of the APIs. … That’s one of the reasons it took a little bit longer than we wanted it to take.”

For PayPal, the Uber integration gives it some important visibility among tech connoisseurs. And for Uber, PayPal integration makes it easier for customers to pay for its service in international markets where credit cards aren’t pervasive.

To tempt users to pay with PayPal in their next Uber ride, the two companies are offering a $15 credit for anyone checking out with PayPal in the Uber app from now until Nov. 28. That credit doesn’t include the cheaper UberTaxi service.


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