APIs have changed the way we do business, and organizations are expanding their business models to reach customers through new channels. In the API Economy, the focus–for the most part–has been on exposing business assets through APIs, which makes collaboration easier, improves time-to-market, and creates new business opportunities. But there is another way to benefit from the API Economy, and that is by generating direct revenue from your APIs.
If you are exploring ways to monetize your APIs, then API Connect has you covered. Picking the right pricing model for your APIs is crucial, and I’d recommend you read this white paper to learn about the various models. In this article, we’ll focus on one of the simpler pricing models — charging a fixed recurring fee for the consumption of your APIs. Let’s use Netflix as an example to think through this exercise. Netflix has three plans: Basic, Standard and Premium; the Premium being the most expensive as it offers all the features. Each plan comes with a one-month free trial, and you can cancel the service anytime. Now, let’s see how we can define a similar pricing plan in API Connect.
For this article, my goal is to provide an overview of the monetization features in API Connect.
Make sure that you meet the following prerequisites before you get started:
- IBM API Connect Enterprise version 220.127.116.11 for the on-premises platform.
- A user ID with Administrative privileges on your Developer Portal.
- A user ID for the Developer Portal that only has consumer privileges (so you can see the same view that your subscribers see).
- APIs that are being managed in an IBM API Connect Developer Portal.
- A Stripe test account for the credit card setup. If you do not have a Stripe account, you can create one during this tutorial. Stripe accounts (including test accounts) can be created at https://dashboard.stripe.com/register.
In APIC 5072, we are introducing out-of-the-box integration support for Stripe, which we’ll use as the payment gateway in this tutorial. Stripe integrates into the API Connect Developer Portal through an iFrame.
To configure billing in API Connect v5072, complete the following steps:
- Enable the monetization feature in APIC 5072. Contact your IBM account team to do this, or use the form at the bottom of this blog post.
- In your API Management server, select the Navigate to…
- Select the Billing tab.
- Select Add (
) > Stripe Integration.
- Select api keys to link to your API keys in your Stripe account.
- If you have a Stripe test account, log into it on the Stripe website and skip to step 8.
- If you do not have a Stripe test account, create one now.
- (a) Select Don’t have an account? Sign up.
- (b) Create an account with an email and password. You need a test account for this procedure.
- (c) Log in to your new Stripe account.
- In the Stripe dashboard, select API in the navigation. You will need the two keys to copy into your API Connect interface to join the two accounts.
- Copy your Stripe Publishable key from your Stripe dashboard, and paste it in the corresponding field on the Add Stripe Account window of API Connect.
- Copy your Stripe Secret Key from the Stripe dashboard, and paste it in the corresponding field on the Add Stripe Account window of API Connect. Note: Select the option to display the key if it is not already displayed.
- Select Create to complete the Stripe integration. Your new integration should be displayed in the Billing Integrations table. A status of Connected means that the connection was verified.
Now create an API and set up a plan:
- Create an API in the API Connect Designer if you don’t already have an existing one that you want to use.
- Add the API to a product.
- Note: Subscriptions are maintained at the product level by creating a plan for the product. The APIs are contained in the product.
- (a) Select the Products tab to view the list of products.
- (b) Select Add (
) to create or import a product.
- (c) Complete the required information for the product.
- (d) Deselect the box for “Publish this product to catalog”.
- (e) Select Create product to create your product.
- (f) With the Design tab selected for your new product, select APIs in the navigation.
- (g) Select + beside the APIs entry to add your API to the product.
- (h) Select your API, and then Apply.
- Create the plans for your product.
- (a) With your product open, select Plans in the navigation to define the monetization plans for your product. The plans are the different subscription options that your customers choose from to use your APIs.
- (b) Delete the Default plan by selecting its trash icon.
- (c) Select + to create your first plan, which is titled New Plan 1 by default.
- (d) Change the Title and Name to Basic.
- (e) Select Monthly Subscription in the Billing Model field.
- (f) Select USD in the Currency field.
- (g) Set the price per month to 9.99.
- (h) Set the Free Trial Days to 30.
- (i) Set your rate limits to what you want for the product on that plan. For this example, set it to 7 calls per minute.
- (j) Leave the rest of the information as it is.
- (k) Select the Save icon (
) to save the new plan.
- (l) Repeat steps c-k to create the Standard and Premium plans.
- Stage your product to a catalog by selecting the stage icon (
) and selecting the catalog to stage to.
- Select the Navigate to… (
) > Dashboard to view your catalogs.
- Select the catalog where you staged your product.
- Select the Settings tab, and ensure that the Development mode slider is off.
- Select the Save icon (
) to save your settings. If you changed it.
- Select the Products tab.
- Select the icon of the three vertically aligned dots next to your product.
- Select Publish to publish the product.
- Confirm your visibility settings and select Publish.
Verify that your customers can subscribe to your API:
- Log on to the Developer Portal by using your ID with developer permissions. You can see your new product.
- Select your user name in title bar of the Portal, and select My Organization to access the billing information.
- Select the Billing tab.
- Select Update.
- Enter the following billing information:
- Credit card
- Note: You can use 4242 4242 4242 4242 with any future date as a test credit card.
- You can subscribe to the plan.
- Navigate to product
- Select product.
- Select from the list of plans.
- Select the paid plan, select the application, and validate.
- Open your Stripe account to verify that your subscription appears in the dashboard when you select Subscriptions.
This was a summary of the monetization capability available in API Connect v5072.
Be sure to check out this article and demo: https://developer.ibm.com/apiconnect/2017/06/30/apic-5072-monetization-overview/