Today's digital world is completely powered by APIs. There's an API for everything you're looking for and if it isn't there yet, someone's building it.

But what exactly is an API? And why is it important to know the concept of API in our tech world? If someone asks you to define API in simple terms, how would you define it? How does the concept of API help us in our daily lives?

If you are hearing the term API for the first time, don’t worry! You have clicked on the right link. Read on, and I’m certain you will get a better picture of what an API is!

When you search for something on Google, have you noticed that Google automatically suggests your keywords and completes it on your behalf?

It is because, as you type a letter on the keyboard, an API is being called in the background. This API will return the results which you are seeing as auto-suggestions.

Confused? No worries. All I was trying to say that the API plays a major role in our tech world.

So, what is an API? Is it a programming language? No.  Is it a software? Hmm, No. Is it a database? No.

Then what is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface.

In simple terms, this is what allows one software programme to “talk” to another, exchanging data behind the scenes to enable you to do something.

Let’s say, you are a mobile app company that provides map services to users who wants directions to any given location. Suppose, you want to add an Uber ride option in your mobile map so that the users can use this option to get a ride from location A to location B.

You need the below information

  1. How many Uber cars are available?
  2. Where are they located?
  3. What is the estimated cost between location A to location B?

How can this be achieved?

One option would be to partner with Uber and get full access to their software systems and databases, which you can use to integrate with your app and get the required data.

But this is not realistically possible!

Being a third party company, how can Uber trust you with their software systems and databases? How can Uber trust you not to cause changes to their existing details about drivers and users, since you have complete access to each and every function within their software systems?

Trust me, no company will ever do that.

Now, let’s say, Uber creates an access point on the internet to share the driver information in a particular format.

Will that solve the problem?

Yes! Now, you can access only the required data without needing access  to Uber’s entire software systems and databases.

All you need to do is to gain access to this so-called access point created by Uber. Let’s call this access point the ‘Uber API’. Your software application can now send a request to the Uber API asking for information on the Uber drivers. And as defined by the Uber API, the request should contain the below information

  1. Start latitude
  2. Start longitude
  3. End latitude
  4. End longitude

Uber then validates the request and shares the results as a response. Using this data, you can show your users the available drivers with the estimated cost for a ride from location A to location B

Therefore an API has three major functionalities

  1. Receives requests from any software application
  2. Collects and processes the results
  3. Return the results as a response back to the requesting software application

Now, Uber does not need to worry about granting everyone full access to their software systems, instead, they can just grant access to the API which can serve requests as needed.

This is how the concept of API has revolutionized the way applications interact with each other.

The requesting application is called the Client application. The application serving the request can be called a Server application. Client and Server interact using API.

That’s just an introduction to API. Now when you hear that bigger companies are opening up their APIs, that is good news because it gives a greater chance for smaller companies and startups to innovate by using these APIs.

Here at Tap Payments, we have opened up APIs for performing online payments. Now businesses can start accepting online payments on their app or website with a single integration with our payment gateway

Through Tap, your customers now have the option of paying with their preferred local card, a regional card, or even with an international credit card. For instance, our Charge API allows them to pay for any of your listed products and services in a snap. Whether that’s through KNET, Benefit, MADA, Sadad, Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

If you’re looking for a little more customization on your Tap gateway, your own developer can easily access the APIs to make all the desired tweaks without a hitch. Our APIs are simple to integrate and is available in multiple programming languages including PHP, JAVA, and .NET.

Come and explore the world of Tap APIs designed to simplify payment experience, keeping you in mind. All you have to worry about now is selling your awesome products.