Adaptive Payments


Important: Adaptive Payments is not available for new integrations. PayPal provides this documentation to support existing integrations.

The Adaptive Payments API allows merchants and developers to pay almost anyone and set up automated payments. They can create applications that manage payments, payment pre-approvals, and refunds. They can also send money peer-to-peer, split payments in both parallel and chained models, accept guest payments, and schedule disbursements. The Adaptive Payments API works on multiple platforms including the web and mobile environments.

How it works

Merchants and developers can control their customers' entire transaction within a single interface. PayPal's Adaptive Payments API handles everything from micro-payments for digital goods to a robust payroll system. 

Why use Adaptive Payments API

Adaptive Payments API allows merchants to:

Build applications to handle payments

Send simple payments to a single recipient.

Make split payments to multiple recipients.

Send chained payments to multiple recipients, one after the other. Each recipient can take a cut of the payment.

Make parallel payments to multiple recipients at the same time.

Manage refunds

Issue full or partial refunds from your own account or on behalf of someone else.

Obtain currency foreign exchange rates

Convert a specific amount or a list of amounts another currency.

Pay almost anyone with an email address

Make payments to almost anyone with an email address or mobile phone number, with or without a PayPal account. Recipients who do not have a PayPal account can create one in minutes.

Get paid by anyone

Receive payments from anyone with an email address, even if they don't have a PayPal account.

Set up pre-approved payment plans

Secure pre-approval for future payments, including single-payments, multiple-payments, and subscriptions. The payments can be for a fixed or variable amount over the term of the agreement.

Make disbursements

Make payments from any of your available payment methods. You can make payroll payments, rebate payments, reward payments, and more. Schedule disbursements up to 90 days in advance.

Embed payments in applications

Allow customers to check out without leaving your app or website and accept micro-payments for as little as 50 cents.

Developers and merchants can combine:

  • Chained and pre-approved payments.
  • Parallel and pre-approved payments.

How to get started

  1. Check your account status. Log into PayPal.

    Click your profile name in the top right corner of your account and then click Account Settings.

    In the left menu, click My settings to confirm that your Account Type is either Premier or Business, or upgrade your account.
  2. Check your API settings. Log into PayPal and access your profile as described in the preceding step. In the left menu, click My selling tools. In the Selling online section, click Update next to API access to verify your API access. Click the appropriate link to set up your API signature or certificate.
  3. Test your integration using the PayPal sandbox, as described in PayPal sandbox Testing Guide. All Adaptive API calls in the sandbox must have the following standard value as the App ID: APP-80W284485P519543T
  4. To go live with your application, follow the submission steps outlined in Go Live with Your App. When you submit your application to PayPal for review, the application is quickly scanned for the requests to PayPal operations. If no advanced operations are found, PayPal issues an App ID for the production servers at the time you submit the application. If your application uses advanced PayPal operations, or if your application implements a complex business model, you can expect the review to take approximately 10 to 15 days.

Note: You can choose to download one of the Adaptive Payments SDKs provided for each supported language.

U.S. fees

There are no setup costs, monthly minimums, cancellation charges, or monthly fees. 

See PayPal Merchant Fees for more information.

International availability and fees

You can use Adaptive Payments in any country where PayPal is accepted.

You can hold multiple currency balances in your PayPal account or convert a currency balance at competitive rates. There are fees for currency conversion and to receive payments from another country.

For more information, see PayPal Merchant Fees.

Countries with Currency Restrictions

If you are a PayPal account holder in a country with currency restrictions, make sure that your Adaptive Payment code or Mass Pay file contains requests that meet your country's requirements. If any of the Mass Pay entries do not comply with the country's restrictions, those entries will fail with an error message.

The following table lists the countries with currency restrictions and describes the restrictions that apply to Adaptive Payments and Mass Payments.

Country Currency Code Restrictions
Brazil BRL

Brazilian users:

This currency is supported as a payment currency and a currency balance for in-country PayPal accounts only. If the receiver of funds is not from Brazil, then PayPal converts funds into the primary holding currency of the account with the applicable currency conversion rate. The currency conversion rate includes PayPal's applicable spread or fee.

Malaysia MYR

Malaysian users can:

  • Send payments in MYR only to other Malaysian users.
  • Send payments in other currencies to all users, including those in Malaysia.

Malaysian users can't:

  • Send payments that result in currency conversion to or from MYR.
  • Send MYR balances to non-Malaysian users.

    Note: Non-Malaysian users cannot hold currency balances in MYR.

Developer and Merchant Support

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Adaptive Payments Development Resources