Betfair wins big with API

Builder: The online betting exchange has its new API to thank for getting its products to market faster, according to its head of product development

Online betting exchange Betfair says it is onto a winner with its innovative application development programme.

Last year it launched the Betfair Developers Programme, licensing its API to individual users and software companies who want to build and sell products to Betfair customers.

With the Betfair API, software developers can communicate directly with the Betfair database in XML format via a SOAP interface, and develop applications that offer functionality that Betfair does not already have. The developers can then charge for the additional functionality they offer and Betfair makes its usual commission on the betting.

The most recent application to be launched is a pay-as-you-go mobile service developed by Birmingham-based Image Habitat. Betfair users can sign up for the service at betanywhere.co.uk, and can then place bets from their mobile phone at the cost of £1.50 a day.

The developer programme creates a free market for products for Betfair users such as specialist trading applications and interfaces. For example, another mobile betting application is also available for the betting exchange.

Since the programme began eight months ago, 35 software developers have come on board.

Betfair's head of product development Tom Johnson told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com: "The reason we introduced the developer programme is that it's a much faster way to get products and functionality that our customers want — and it harnesses the creativity of these software companies. You can't build all these things your self — you just can't do it on your own."

He said mobile is one area of opportunity for software developers where there is a lot of "pent-up demand" from Betfair users.

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