PayPal opens Web services

It seems that the business expansion strategy for successful portal-type sites is to open up to developers. We've seen this move from Amazon, eBay, and now, from PayPal one of the e-commerce 800-pound gorillas.

PayPal, now owned by eBay, claims some 45 million users and maintains that it handled more than $4.3 billion in transactions in the first quarter of 2004. But this is a market where, as with sharks, forward motion equates to survival. Thus it is hardly a surprise that the company should open access to PayPal facilities via Web services.

Based on Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL), PayPal's recently released beta version provides three Web services called:

  • TransactionSearch: Returns a set of matching transaction IDs and basic transaction details based on search criteria such as payment date or customer name.
  • GetTransactionDetails: Returns all details associated with a specific transaction, such as customer e-mail address, time of payment, and purchase details.
  • RefundTransaction: Reverses a specific transaction and issues a refund or partial refund to the purchaser.

PayPal also plans to offer a fourth call in a few weeks which transfers funds to a single or multiple recipients called MassPay.

Joining the PayPal developer program is free and provides extensive documentation and a "Sandbox" environment for testing Web services.

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