BVS Tool Generates PayPal Invoices From IBM i
October 25, 2017 Alex Woodie
A new product from BVS Tools lets organizations generate PayPal invoices from their IBM i screens with just a few clicks of the keyboard. The product, called GreenTools for PayPal (G4PP), has the potential to save customers a lot of time compared to manually creating invoices in the PayPal environment.
Use of PayPal is growing quickly as consumers look for alternative ways to buy things, particularly from their mobile phones. According to Statista, about one third of U.S. retailers accept payments through PayPal, and another 21 percent are expected to add PayPal support soon. The electronic payment network, which was spun out of eBay years ago, handled $102 billion in transactions in 2016, a 43 percent increase compared to 2015, according to Statista.
While consumer-oriented businesses have had to deal with PayPal for years, businesses that typically cater to other businesses are also feeling pressure to accept payments via PayPal. That means that IBM i shops of all stripes – retailers and non-retailers alike – should be thinking about their PayPal strategy.
This is where BVS Tools‘ new G4PP software fits in. The product was created by BVS Tools owner Bradley Stone at the request of a customer who was tired of expending manual effort to send invoices electronically via PayPal.
According to Stone, employees had to log into their PayPal accounts over a Web browser, enter data into the required fields, and then hit the submit button. It wasn’t an inordinate amount of work – five minutes here, five minutes there. But when you add up the lost time, the manual work took a definite toll on productivity.
Stone wrote G4PP to automate some of that PayPal invoice work. The RPG-based program hooks into PayPal’s RESTful APIs to allow users to enter the invoice data – including invoice number and amount — directly from their IBM i screens.
After an initial configuration process that includes authenticating oneself to the PayPal service, G4PP allows IBM i users to press a few buttons in a green screen to generate the invoices. Behind the scenes, ILE subprocedures are invoked that automatically prepare and send the invoice to a customer via PayPal’s network.
The customers on the receiving end of the G4PP process will receive an email from PayPal alerting them to the invoice. Users can then submit the payment using a credit card, if they like – they don’t need to have a PayPal account.
The BVS Tools client who requested the product hasn’t used it extensively yet, but they did express initial satisfaction with the product. “It’s going to be a gradual roll out to a select few customers to give them the option to pay by credit card,” the customer told Stone.
“Overall, the G4PP package was very easy to integrate into our invoicing systems,” the customer continued. “We wrote new programs to interface with our existing order management systems, but only because the whole ‘pay by credit card’ concept was new to our business.”
Stone unveiled version 1 of the product this summer, and has since rolled out versions 2 and 3, which add things like support for canceling invoices, submitting refunds, and retrieving balances.
Authentication in G4PP is handled via the OAauth2.0 standard, thereby providing strong assurances of security. The software requires another BVS Tools product, GETURI, which allows IBM i servers to utilize REST, SOAP, and XML standards. A copy of GETURI is included with the G4PP.
Some GETURI customers ran into a snafu earlier this year when payment providers, including PayPal, began requiring new encryption ciphers that were not supported on older releases of the IBM i operating system – notably IBM i 7.1. This particular BVS Tools client was one of them. “And, as you know, we did have to overcome the hurdle of our operating system not supporting the new TLS version required by PayPal, but that has nothing to do with G4PP,” the client wrote. (IBM has since announced that it will stop supporting IBM i 7.1 next May.)
After creating G4PP for a client, Stone started using it for his own online business. “Instead of logging on to PayPal to create an invoice I just click a button, enter an invoice number and total, and the GreenTools For PayPal app does the rest,” he tells IT Jungle via email. “It literally saves me at least five minutes an invoice — 10 if I forgot my password.”
BVS Tools offers an array of GreenTools products to integrate IBM i functionality with various Web services, including Google Apps, Microsoft Apps, and Slack. The company charges clients $.78 per day to use G4PP for each IBM i LPAR; add-ons for refunds and account balance are extra. For more info see www.bvstools.com.