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How to use Public and Private APIs to innovate and grow

APIs -- both public and private -- are increasingly core to successful business strategies. At Betfair the use of public and private APIs use has allowed the company to both innovate and grow, according to Paul Cutter, CTO of Betfair, who will be presenting within the API Strategies track at Apps World Europe this November 12-13 at London’s ExCel.

Private and public APIs – best of both worlds

“We use two kinds of APIs within our business. There are the public APIs that we expose to the outside world and the private APIs that we use to drive our own applications,” says Cutter. “The strategy for both is quite different.”

Cutter says the public API is an important way to get Betfair’s service to an even wider range of customers as well as build revenues. Having been in operation for around six years the public API is used to make the functionality of the company’s betting exchange more accessible to developers. “That gets more people using our exchange and gives us the benefit of a whole market of developers,” he says.

The private API meanwhile has come about thanks to the rapid growth in mobile. “Betfair just had a website four years ago. It was a very straightforward set of interactions with one website and one backend. Now we have multiple websites for both the sports and betting exchange site as well as mobile apps for both and mobile web. The private API allows us to do the hard work of interaction once so we aren’t repeating the same work again and again,” he says.

Cutter admits there are challenges to both approaches: “The biggest challenge is in getting the right balance between what should be done in the API vs what the clients should do,” he says. “If the API is too lightweight then clients have to reinvent the same logic over and over again which is wasteful. Conversely if the API has too much functionality and logic built into it, it becomes restrictive and constrains innovation. Deciding where the right balance lies is not always easy, and sometimes the only way to get it right is to try several approaches and see what works best,” he says.

…but rewarding
Cutter will go into more detail about how to use public and private APIs to innovate and grow at Apps World Europe but he’s certainly passionate about the benefits of having both. “Public APIs are a great way to foster innovation and grow demand for your services. Private APIs help teams to run efficiently in a multi-channel world by keeping clients decoupled from back-end services. Having both means you can share learnings from each and align your architecture to an API-driven approach,” he says.

If you would like to find out more about how to use public and private APIs to innovate and grow your business make sure you catch Paul Cutter, CTO of Betfair within the API Strategies track at Apps World Europe November 12-13. Book your ticket for Apps World Europe by clicking here.

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