Square copies Stripe with new online checkout API

By Romain Dillet for Techcrunch

Watch out Braintree, Stripe and other online checkout systems, Square is going after you. The company launched new APIs today for offline and online stores. But the bigger news is that e-commerce merchants can now process credit card payments using a simple form. Behind the scene, Square processes the payment.

Like Stripe, you don’t need to sign up to an e-wallet. You can enter your credit card info right on the checkout screen. Like Stripe, it’s easy to integrate payments with a few lines of codes as Square is also betting on an API strategy and native integrations into existing checkout screens. Like Stripe, online checkout costs 2.9 percent + 30 cents per transaction.

So why exactly would you sign up for Square instead of Stripe? Square has one clear advantage compared to Stripe — it works online and offline. If you’re an existing Square user in your stores, leveraging the e-commerce API on the web makes sense. It’s a unified solution with a unified backend. All your sales are automatically going to show up on Square’s dashboard.

This isn’t the first time Square is building stuff for e-commerce customers. With Square Market (now called Online Store), the company lets you create an online shop with a drag and drop interface. It’s like website creation and hosting service Squarespace, but just for online shops. And if you’re starting to get confused between the names Square and Squarespace, Squarespace also lets you create an online shop — ironically, Squarespace uses Stripe.

But let’s come back to Square. With the new Square e-commerce API, anyone can use Square for checkout, from Joe’s Bike Shop to Walmart. You don’t need to squeeze your catalog into Square’s e-commerce website creation tool.

Also new today, the company is introducing a new Register API for offline customers. With this API, any iOS point of sale app can integrate Square for the payment brick. And of course, it works with Square’s card readers. So if you have very specific needs, there will soon be multiple register apps that work with your Square readers — and not just the official Square app.

These new APIs are also a great way to convince bigger customers with very specific needs. Now, there’s no reason why McDonald’s couldn’t keep its existing registers and switch to Square for the payment part for example. Similarly, all the big Stripe clients like Kickstarter, Postmates, Lyft and Shopify now have an alternative.

The article first appeared in techcrunch.com