July 28, 2022

API Monetization Models and Strategies for 2024


API monetization represents a way to unlock an additional revenue stream from the services that power your application.

As we move into 2024, forward-thinking businesses are recognizing the potential of APIs not just as functional components, but as key players in revenue generation. By strategically providing access to these APIs, companies can tap into new markets, catalyze innovation and turn their behind-the-scenes technology into a front-line profit driver.

In this short blog post, we'll provide an overview of how to get started in your API monetization strategy.

What is API Monetization?

API monetization is generating revenue by providing controlled access to the functionalities or data offered through an Application Programming Interface (API). In essence, it transforms APIs from mere technical assets into valuable business resources. This strategy involves the API provider charging third parties for using the API, whether it’s through direct usage fees, subscription models or more sophisticated models.

This is also beneficial for the subscribers. By integrating with external APIs, companies gain access to a wealth of functionalities and data without the need for extensive in-house development. This saves time and money, allowing for rapid deployment of new features and services.

Moreover, it enhances the quality of products by incorporating specialized services and data from industry leaders. For instance, a travel booking platform that uses a weather API can provide more comprehensive trip planning features.

Why Should an API Provider Consider Monetization?

Companies and individuals can use API monetization for several reasons:

  • Directly generate revenue
  • Getting new customers
  • Easier talent hiring
  • Long-term company stability

Direct monetary gain is the simplest form of API monetization. Every company wants more revenue. However, this is not the only way. There are other non-direct ways that either increase revenue or reduce costs.

Getting new customers is somewhat unexpected but a brilliant thing to do. You can even make the API free to use. Most companies probably have a lot of data that their clients might find useful. And exposing this data through an API for free puts you (as a company) in front of potential customers.

This is a form of indirect monetization, and it allows your users to start working with you before officially hiring you. This builds trust, and when the time comes to do some actual business, you already have a good standing with your potential client.

Easier talent hiring follows a similar logic as getting new customers. But now, you are targeting software developers. Let's say developers see that you are developing cool technology. In that case, they are more likely to be drawn to your company. And more likely to want to work with you. This is, again, free advertising.

Long-term company stability is often overlooked, but there is something to be said about infrastructure dependency. For example, there are plenty of instances where software written half a century ago runs to this day. In fact, in many cases, this software is crucial. It's currently used all the way from banking to the airline industry.

When it comes to API, think about services like PayPal or Stripe. How can they ever fail when they're integrated into so many businesses? And similar logic can apply to your API business.

You are hard to replace if you get integrated into many different businesses as a key component. And your API becomes part of the infrastructure backbone of the entire economy. When that happens, it's really hard to fail.

API Usage and Monetization Models

There are several API monetization strategies you can use:

  • Pay by the API call
  • Pay for data consumed
  • Flat subscription model
  • Paying for available endpoints
  • Pay by the number of apps using the API
  • Commission-based payment model
  • Etc.


You have to know what your API service will be about, and naturally, you have to have an API. If you haven't figured out what to offer your customers, read the API business ideas article. You might find it very helpful.

Regarding API itself, low-code technology is the most cost-effective way to build APIs today because it increases development effectiveness by 3-5X.

Once you have the API, you can consider the monetization strategies described in the rest of this article.

(NOTE: these monetization models are not mutually exclusive and you can combine several into a unique offer.)

Monetization Strategies In Depth

Pay by API Call

The 'Pay by API Call' model is particularly effective for services where the value correlates directly with the frequency of API usage. This model is commonly seen in data-driven APIs, such as geolocation services, financial market data or SMS messaging services, where each API call delivers distinct value.


  • Users pay for exactly what they use, making it a transparent and fair pricing model.
  • It allows users, especially smaller ones, to start small and scale their usage as their business grows.
  • Providers can forecast API revenue based on call metrics, which aids in business planning.
  • This model can accommodate various users, from startups to large enterprises, by adjusting the volume of API calls.


  • It can be challenging for users to predict costs, as API usage may fluctuate.
  • Users need to continuously monitor their API usage to avoid unexpected costs.
  • Revenue might fluctuate for providers, depending on the users' API call volume, which can complicate financial planning.

Pay for Data Consumed

The 'Pay for Data Consumed' model is a simple monetization model where the customer pays for downloaded data. This can also be set up, so the payment is based on every single bit used. And it also can be done in bulk, where the customer pays for every MB or GB used (depending on the specific use case).

When we talk about "consumed" data, it's usually interpreted as data sent to the user. However, this can also refer to data received. For example, if you're storing the data through your API (similar to Google Drive or Dropbox). Another example is image processing. Here it also matters if the API is processing an image 100kB in size to 10MB.


  • Costs are directly linked to the amount of data consumed, making the pricing model straightforward and aligned with the perceived value.
  • This model can accommodate a wide range of users, from individual developers to large corporations, based on their data consumption needs.
  • Providers can offer various pricing tiers based on data volume, providing options for different usage levels.
  • Users pay only for the data they consume, which encourages efficient data usage.


  • Like the pay-per-call model, costs can be unpredictable due to fluctuating data usage.
  • Monitoring and billing based on data volume can be more complex than simple call counts.
  • For services dealing with large data sets, costs can escalate quickly, which might deter potential users.

Flat subscription model

The 'Flat Subscription Model' is most suitable for APIs where the data does not change frequently and where users benefit from continuous access without needing constant updates.

This model is ideal for APIs providing access to static or slowly-changing data, like weather forecasts, financial market summaries or encyclopedia-style information.


  • API users enjoy a clear understanding of their costs with no surprises, aiding in budgeting and financial planning.
  • Users can have API access without worrying about exceeding usage limits, encouraging more comprehensive use of the service.
  • It provides a consistent and predictable revenue stream for API providers.


  • The flat fee model limits the potential for increased revenue from high-volume users.
  • This model may not be feasible for APIs with high computational costs or those providing real-time, frequently updated data.
  • While usage is unlimited within reason, there's a risk of users overtaxing the system, potentially requiring providers to impose soft limits or fair use policies.

Paying for Available Endpoints

The 'Paying for Available Endpoints' model is well-suited for APIs offering a wide range of functionalities or datasets, where users may only need access to specific segments. This model is particularly relevant for complex APIs in sectors like financial services, healthcare or logistics, where different data sets or functionalities cater to distinct needs.


  • Users can tailor their subscription to access only the data or functionalities they need, avoiding paying for unnecessary features.
  • This approach can be more budget-friendly for users who require access to a limited part of the API.
  • It allows API providers to create multiple revenue streams from different segments of their API.
  • Providers have the opportunity to upsell additional endpoints, gradually expanding the user's access as their needs grow.


  • The model can become complex if there are numerous endpoints, making it harder for users to understand and choose what they need.
  • Users might feel restricted if they need access to multiple endpoints but are deterred by the cumulative cost.
  • Providers need to manage and monitor access to multiple endpoints, which can increase administrative overhead.
  • There’s a risk of fragmenting the user experience if critical endpoints are separated, potentially affecting user satisfaction.

Pay By the Number of Apps Using the API

This API monetization strategy is particularly effective for development platforms or APIs used by developers and companies creating multiple applications. It's ideal for scenarios where a single API offers a broad range of functionalities that can be leveraged across various apps, such as mapping services, payment gateways or communication features.


  • Offers the flexibility to use the same API across multiple projects, tailoring its use to each app's unique requirements.
  • It scales easily with the company's growth, as they can simply add more subscriptions as they develop more apps.
  • For individual applications, this model provides straightforward, unlimited access, simplifying usage and integration.
  • It creates a predictable revenue model, as fees are based on the number of apps rather than usage metrics.


  • It can become costly for companies with a large portfolio of apps, as each app incurs separate charges.
  • Managing subscriptions for multiple apps can add administrative complexity.
  • Small developers or startups might find this model prohibitive if they need the API for multiple small projects.

Commission-Based Payment Model

The commission-based payment model is highly suitable for APIs that facilitate transactions where the value of each transaction is easily quantifiable. This model is commonly employed in financial services, such as payment processing APIs, affiliate marketing platforms and e-commerce integrations, where a percentage of the transaction value is taken as a commission.


  • Users can easily understand the cost relative to the value they receive, as the fees are directly tied to the transactions’ success.
  • Predictable and Fair Pricing: Costs are predictable and perceived as fair, as they are directly related to the transaction value.
  • The model scales with the user's business growth, as costs are proportionate to the transaction volume.


  • API providers' revenues are directly tied to the success and volume of users' transactions, which can be variable.
  • The model may be less attractive for high-value transactions where the commission can become significant.
  • Depending on the transaction type or size, the fee structure can become complex.

Building And Publishing Your API

When it comes to building APIs, nothing compares to the capabilities of low-code technology.

It allows you to reduce development time and infrastructure costs. And it does so by automating all the repetitive tasks developers usually spend a lot of time on:

  • Automatically creates all the necessary endpoints
  • Automatically builds the database after the data model is defined
  • Both database and the entire backend are automatically deployed and published
  • Scales out-of-the-box without any additional work from the development side
  • Almost nothing new to learn
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
  • Uses familiar technologies (JavaScript, MySQL, GraphQL, AWS)

And all the while, you retain the ability to fully customize your app. So it's definitely worth trying it out for free.

API Monetization Platform

After you have your core API with the functionality you want to offer to your customers, how do you monetize?

You have two options here:

  • Implement API monetization logic internally
  • Or just use some of the existing marketplaces

Both approaches have their upsides and downsides. If you go with an in-house solution, the upside is you don't have to pay a commission to any external platform. However, you have to pay for additional development to set up:

  • Different payment options (PayPal, Stripe, etc.)
  • Different payment models (pay per API call, per data consumed, etc.)
  • API usage/consumption tracking (counting API calls, measuring data size, etc.)

And all of these things take time. Basically, it's almost like building a separate product. The alternative is to use an API marketplace. Currently, one of the biggest is RapidAPI. You just connect your API to this platform, and all the API monetization part is handled for you. Your only task is to provide valuable API and find new customers.

To Sum It Up

API monetization provides many benefits. Aside from direct revenue, it can also increase the visibility of your business and attract more customers and future employees.

Low-code technology is the most cost-effective way to build and scale APIs. This alone gives you an advantage over competitors who only use traditional programming. Its intuitive nature and usage of widely-known technologies make the learning curve really easy.

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