Stripe launches Relay API for native mobile buy buttons

With Relay, merchants can integrate their product catalog with Stripe and then sell them across whatever social platform and apps have also integrated the API.


Online payments processor Stripe has launched Relay, an API designed to simplify the in-app purchase experience with native mobile buy buttons.

Intial launch partners include Twitter and the product discovery app ShopStyle, along with retailers Warby Parker and Saks Fifth Avenue.

In a nutshell, Relay aims to carry out the purchase process directly within the point of discovery -- namely, mobile apps. Retailers can integrate their product catalog with Stripe and then sell them across whatever social platform and apps have also integrated the API.

Using Twitter, for example, Relay allows merchants to tweet a link and have a buy button show up next to it on Twitter. Once clicked, the consumer is not redirected to a mobile website and instead remains in the app for the entire purchase -- something Stripe says is a key to getting shoppers to actually complete a purchase.

According to data from Stripe, mobile devices represent 60 percent of browsing traffic for shopping sites, yet they only make up just 15 percent of purchases.

"When we get linked to a shopping cart on our phone, we usually just give up. That shouldn't be surprising--most mobile shopping sites are fundamentally the same as the desktop sites that preceded them, despite the medium calling for something completely different," the company said in a blog post announcing Relay.

Interest in buy buttons has ballooned over the last year, with merchants and technology providers eager to experiment with how they can use the technology to increase conversion rates and online sales. In July Google announced its new feature called Purchases on Google, which will allow consumers to buy products directly from mobile search ads.

Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter have all formed merchant and payment partnerships to start embedding buy buttons on their sites. Stripe, along with PayPal's Braintree, have partnered with Pinterest to help process payments for the site's Buyable Pins feature.

In other words, buy buttons are are not a new concept, and Relay is not Stripe's first foray into the buy buttons space. But according to the company, previous buy button experiences were "hard to build since stores don't usually make their products programmatically available."

As for Stripe, the startup launched four years ago by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, and is now valued at around $5 billion. The introduction of Relay is a big deal for the company, but it's success will hinge on social partnerships. Stripe needs to recruit the likes of Pinterest and Facebook in order to make Relay appeal to merchants who are looking for the farthest reaching buy button on the block.