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Your Tech Stack and The Importance of Integration

March 16, 2022

The Story of Two Systems

During the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis, Bank of America acquired investment management firm Merrill Lynch. As part of the acquisition, Bank of America looked to eliminate redundancies through consolidation where there was overlap between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch functions. Merrill Lynch and Bank of America both had derivative operations teams, located in New Jersey and Chicago, respectively. 

Bank of America decided to move Merrill Lynch’s derivative operations to Chicago and eliminate the New Jersey team. As one of the team leaders, I managed five analysts. They sat across from another team who performed the same roles, yet worked on two completely different proprietary technology systems. BAML’s goal was to not only centralize operations to one geographic location but also create one fully integrated solution for all derivative operations. 

After leaving Bank of America, I stayed in touch with a few of my colleagues. I’d often ask “How was work?”, referencing the integration of the two legacy technologies along with the progress of building the new solution. The response was consistent, it was taking the developers more time than anticipated….and for years, BAML operated with the two derivative operations teams in Chicago, one on Bank of America’s system and the other on Merrill Lynch’s. Over four years later, BAML launched their new consolidated proprietary software. Though I’m far removed from my days working in the Willis Tower in back-office finance,  I still remember my time at BAML and the challenges and importance of system integration.

Nowadays, I work at a FinTech company providing mobile payments to underserved markets, including the cannabis industry. Here at AeroPay, we also recognize that  integration is key to any cannabis operation.  This emerging industry, still not federally legal across the U.S., must adhere to strict compliance requirements and technology solutions have to be seamlessly integrated to ensure reconciliation, ID verification, and the meeting of other state-specific requirements.

Integration and Cannabis

System integration is connecting different software components as one functional system to ensure each component seamlessly functions as intended.  As part of your cannabis operations, having an integrated tech stack is crucial to ensure accurate data reporting and increased productivity. This includes integrating your cannabis-compliant payment solution into your eCommerce site and your Point Of Sale. 

Teresa Turco, Product Manager at AeroPay, leads many of our partner integrations. She says:

“Well-designed integrations streamline the user experience and reduce the possibility for human error. User actions like placing an order or tendering a transaction can update both systems, creating a payment in both AeroPay and in the POS automatically.”

When fully integrated, AeroPay provides an end-to-end checkout experience that the budtenders and customers appreciate.

What are the options to integrate payments into your tech stack?

Pre-Built (In-Store QR Code): You can utilize the pre-built UI of the service without integrating at all. AeroPay has a merchant portal that allows for payment management and generates payment links specific to your business. You can use this service with only a computer to get up and running with the component of manually tendering of AeroPay payments in your POS when a customer completes an order. 

Application Programming Interface (API): An external-facing application program that allows two systems to speak to each other. To ensure client authentication, AeroPay issues API credentials tied to specific merchants that allow our client’s developers to call on our different endpoints. AeroPay’s API allows clients to embed our product directly into their website. From a customer’s perspective, it looks like it is part of a seamless website experience. APIs also give the flexibility to customize the flow or feel of AeroPay.

Software Development Kit (SDK): A software development toolbox that allows you to write only a few lines of code to launch an AeroPay window within your website/POS. AeroPay makes our SDK available to our client’s developers to help them easily integrate with our software.

So what’s the difference between these three options?

Teresa used simple analogy when describing the differences between the following integrations, “Think of integration like a house. An API Integration is like building the house from scratch. We give you the nails and the lumber, then you can build the house however you want. An SDK integration is like buying a home. The structure has been designed and built, but you can move around the furniture. Using our pre-built UI is like buying a model home. You have everything you need and it’s all laid out for you, but there is less flexibility.”

Dan Menza, AeroPay’s Senior Software Engineer, works closely with our clients as they onboard to our platform and also focuses on integration engineering and creating product feature enhancements based on client requests and needs. When speaking with him about the benefits of AeroPay’s SDK integrations, 

“We understand what leads to the best lift and conversions which optimizes our payment flow experience. Building out an AeroPay branded API for a client takes longer to build out than an SDK. An SDK can cut down the turnaround time, which is typically around 2-3 weeks.”

How does AeroPay make client integrations smoother?

1. Writing API documentation with a customer-first approach

“API endpoints should be built like user interfaces- with research, design, and the customer experience in mind. Your customer, in this case, typically are other developers. ”

2. Streamlining integrations to build a platform at scale

“We’ve all heard the term “square peg, round hole”. Forcing something that doesn’t solve the problem will lead to future complications. Be sure you understand what you’re integrating and if it makes sense to do it. We are working on building our platform for an omnichannel retailer payments experience.”

3. Build a solution within the product to solve everyone’s problems

“In many instances, our customers wish to have custom integration solutions that solve for one specific problem.  Understanding the business problem allows us to strategize around building a better platform for all in the end. AeroPay prides itself on taking our client’s feedback and through discovery and proper speccing, we create a solution that becomes an added product feature that hopefully resolves multiple problems for all AeroPay clients.”

As the cannabis industry grows,  the importance of system integration and its impact across the organization, from banking to budtending, will remain crucial to industry compliance. As the industry’s premier payments provider, AeroPay will continue to ensure that our solutions seamlessly integrate into your tech stack.


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