Square strengthens partner ecosystem with new Terminal API for developers and two new partner programs

One new program is around Terminal API integrations, while the other is for agencies around Square Online. Square is also planning big improvements to their App Marketplace.

While 2020 was a challenging year for both Square and their partners, the company still saw signs of momentum in terms of the growth of partner sophistication and adaption. They are also taking steps to improve partner skill and resilience. At their virtual Square Unboxed event for partners and developers on Thursday, the company announced Terminal API, which lets developers connect the Square Terminal platform to any third party POS or ERP system. They also announced a complementary Solutions Partner Acceleration Program for Terminal API, as well as a new program for agents around Square Online. Square is also investing in enhancing its App Marketplace, promising new capabilities.

Pankaj Bengani, global head of partnerships at Square, kicked off the event by noting that Square, with its focus on POS sales, had been part of the market that had been battered by the impact of the coronavirus and the lockdowns.

“2020 has been a really tough year for our sellers and our partners,” he acknowledged, but hard struggle has demonstrated resilience, adaptation and creativity.”

Bengani cited multiple examples of partners engaging in innovative behaviors, from teaming with GoDaddy to get online, to event companies introducing self scanning for online events.

“It’s these integrations that have been built on Square’s platform that have enabled partners to be successful,” he stated.

Bengani also noted a positive trend in the strong 343% rate of growth of managed platform partners, more than four times the growth rate of the more basic connected platforms.

“We are looking forward to many more connected platforms graduating to managed platforms over the next 12 months,” he said.

The big product news at the event was the general availability announcement of their new Terminal API developer tool. It lets developers connect Square Terminal to whatever POS or other system that the developer is using, and regardless if they are building on iOS, Android, web, or desktop, so that they can build flexible business management software.  Sellers can now use their Square Terminal hardware to accept every type of payment quickly and securely, including contactless payments with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other NFC payment methods, either by having a developer to build an application, or using a platform that is integrated with Terminal API.

“Square Terminal is great option for taking orders in person, but until now sellers using a third party point of sale had to manually make payments,” said Marylise Tauzia, Developer Engagement Lead at Square. “With Terminal API, payments will automatically sync with sellers’ POS systems. Because it connects to apps built on any platform, this will bring more opportunities for full stack developers and Microsoft developers.” At the GA, Terminal API is available not just in the U.S., but also Canada, the U.K. and Australia.”

Bengani announced a new Solutions Partner Acceleration Program for Terminal API, and indicated that Ciellos, a Microsoft Dynamics-focused SI who he termed one of Square’s marquee partners, had been involved though the program in a significant integration.

“It will be really exciting to see how many more of these we do,” he said.

Bengani also announced a new initiative around Square Online, which he said had grown during the pandemic to represent 24% of Square selling, with 4.4 million curbside pickup orders.

“Square Online represents a pillar of our omnichannel strategy,” he said. “So we have launched a new partner program for agencies.” The program, he said, would help more sellers get online.

Bengani noted that Square already has a collection of APIs for Terminal API live in their App Marketplace, but that much more is being done to broaden the Marketplace’s functionality.

“We are investing in our App Marketplace, doing things like driving recommendations to sellers, enabling seller ratings and reviews,” he said. “We  are just getting started. We will also personalize it for users.”

Tauzia also refreshed the audience about the initiatives that Square has implemented in recent months, emphasizing that the goal is to build a system for developers that is as simple and delightful as possible.

“We are building a simple path to make that first API call and integrate SDKs, to help developers do things faster,” she said. She also reviewed recent API integrations and new backend SDKs.

“We have also launched new channels to stay connected with developers,” she added. “We launched new developer forums for communication, and late last year, we launched a Square YouTube channel.”