Introducing Adaptive Accounts


Important: Adaptive Accounts is no longer available for new integrations. PayPal provides this documentation to support existing integrations.

The Adaptive Accounts API lets you build applications that create PayPal accounts and handle account management.

Adaptive Accounts Scenarios

The Adaptive Accounts API enables your application to create and verify PayPal accounts. You can also add bank accounts or payment cards (such as credit and debit cards) to link to PayPal accounts as funding sources.

Consider the following examples. You might create a PayPal account using the Adaptive Accounts APIs as part of the set up for a:

  • marketplace. You can offer PayPal as a payment option and create PayPal accounts for your users that do not already have them. Your users can include buyers and suppliers or clients and services providers as senders and receivers in various countries.
  • social networking application, such as one that "pays for lunch" or sends a payment for any reason. Your application may not be directly involved in the payment; however, you can enable the payment by ensuring that the user has the opportunity to create a PayPal account.
  • store checkout flow. You might provide PayPal account creation for your customers or you might provide account creation for someone else's customers as part of a shopping cart service.

Creating an Account

PayPal account holders traditionally create their PayPal accounts by going directly to or signing up during a checkout flow. The Adaptive Accounts CreateAccount method offers a new way: Creating accounts within your application or website, outside the checkout flow.

Your application sends a request using the CreateAccount method with information gathered from your website, and PayPal creates the account. At this point, the new PayPal account holder is briefly redirected to (either by a mini-browser or a full page redirect) to enter private information, such as a password, and to accept the PayPal User Agreement. PayPal then returns the new account holder to your website. This greatly reduces the chances of losing customers during the account creation flow.

That brings us to the key benefit of Adaptive Accounts: A streamlined account creation and completion process. Research shows that removing barriers from account creation and payment experience increases conversion and improves customer satisfaction.

Imagine the possibilities: With the CreateAccount method, a shopping cart application could create PayPal accounts directly from the shopping cart site.

Adding Bank Accounts as Funding Sources

In addition to creating and verifying PayPal accounts, Adaptive Accounts lets your application link bank accounts to PayPal accounts as funding sources. Traditionally, PayPal account holders do this manually at With the AddBankAccount method, you can now offer your customers the benefit of a smooth, uninterrupted process where PayPal account creation includes adding a funding source for the account, all in one fell swoop. If you are a financial institution, you can offer customers who are also PayPal account holders an easy way to link the bank account with your institution as a funding source for their PayPal accounts.

How does it work? Your application sends an AddBankAccount request, passing the relevant bank account information, such as the account number and routing number. The PayPal account holder is redirected briefly to to confirm the information, then returns to your customer's website.

Adding Payment Cards as Funding Sources

Adaptive Accounts lets your application link the created PayPal account to a credit card or payment card. This card can then be used as a funding source (payment method) for the PayPal account. To use this feature, you use the createAccount key from the CreateAccount response and pass it with the AddPaymentCard method together with pertinent payment card information.

For standard permissions, the AddPaymentCard method requires the PayPal account user to confirm the payment card addition on Developers with advanced permissions can pass the AddPaymentCard with the confirmedType element (set to NONE) to add payment cards without redirecting to

Supported payment cards are:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • Maestro
  • Carte Aurore
  • Carte Bleue
  • Cofinoga
  • 4 etoiles
  • Carte Aura
  • Tarjeta Aurora
  • JCB

Set Funding Sources to Confirmed Status

If you call the AddBankAccount or AddPaymentCard methods, you can use the SetFundingSourceConfirmed method to set the created funding source to "confirmed". In certain instances, this will cause the PayPal account status to be set to Verified.

Note: This functionality is only available for banks or card issuers.

Verifying the Status of a PayPal Account

Merchants can use this feature to show the verification status of a consumer's PayPal account before the merchant completes a transaction.

To determine whether you can use this limited-release API, contact your PayPal integration team.

Account Creation Flow

For account creation on the web, call CreateAccount and use the redirect URL to direct the person's browser to PayPal. After the person creates an account, the browser is redirected to the return URL you specified in the CreateAccount request. The following diagram shows the basic flow of control for account creation on the web:

The following items correspond to the circled numbers in the diagram:

  1. Your site or device sends a CreateAccount request to PayPal on behalf of a potential account holder.
  2. PayPal responds with a key and a URL, named the redirectURL, that you use when you direct the person to PayPal.
  3. You include the key and redirect your person's browser to PayPal using the redirectURL.

After the person logs on to PayPal and completes the account setup, the person is prompted to return to the URL.

Note: The return URL functionality is currently only supported for the full browser web experience, not the mini browser experience.

Account Creation Using a mini-browser

PayPal can enable your customer to create an account using either a full browser or mini-browser flow. Set CreateAccountRequest.CreateAccountWebOptionsType.usemini-browser to true in the CreateAccount request message to specify this flow.

Note: You must use Version 1.0.1 or higher of the Adaptive Accounts WSDL to implement this flow.

When you redirect your customer's browser to the URL in the CreateAccount response message, PayPal responds with the following:

Your customer enters the password twice and clicks Agree and Continue to create the account.

Note: For certain countries, the mini-browser is optmized to fit into the most popular mobile phone (iPhone, Android) screen sizes. Currently the mobile-optimization is only supported for the United States, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Note: By default, redirecting the browser to the returned URL opens the page in a default browser window. You must provide JavaScripts to pop-up the window in a mini-browser or to display it in a lightbox within your browser window.

Adding a Credit Card in the mini-browser Account Creation Flow

PayPal can require your customer to add a credit card using a mini-browser flow. Set CreateAccountRequest.CreateAccountWebOptionsType.showAddCreditCard to true in the CreateAccount request message to add a credit card during this flow. After the customer specifies the password and agrees to create the account, PayPal responds with the following page in a mini-browser:

Your customer enters debit or credit card information and clicks Add Card and Continue.

Note: Your customer can enter a phone number and associate a billing address, or add a new address from the Billing address drop-down menu:

Confirming Account Creation Using a Mobile Phone

PayPal can enable your customer to confirm a mobile phone when creating an account for the following countries using the mini-browser flow: Australia, Canada, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and United States. Set CreateAccountRequest.CreateAccountWebOptionsType.showMobileConfirm to true in the CreateAccount request message to enable account creation using a mobile phone during this flow. After adding a debit or credit card, PayPal responds with the following page in a mini-browser:

Your customer requests a confirmation code by clicking Send SMS, and then clicks Confirm Phone after entering the code in the SMS message.

Note: The phone number to confirm is the number associated with a debit or credit card for the account, which you set on the Link a debit or credit card page. You cannot change the phone number.

Default Account Creation From the Web

To enable your customer to create a PayPal account, you call the CreateAccout API operation and use the returned URL to redirect your customer's browser to PayPal. Your customer then signs up and agrees to the terms of the account. By default, when you redirect your customer's browser to the URL in the CreateAccount response message, PayPal responds with the following sequence of pages:

  1. The Welcome page identifies the information that will be needed to create an account:

  2. The Create PayPal account login screen requests your customer to submit a password and security questions, with answers:

  3. The Add Credit or Debit Card page enables your customer to specify a funding source and billing information:

    Note: The account holder can add a credit or debit card now or click Cancel to continue without adding a card.

  4. After the person logs on to PayPal and completes the account setup, the person is prompted to return to the URL.