Skyscanner has seen flight booking conversion increase by 20 percent since turning to online payments specialist Braintree to power direct flight bookings on its site and app.

The popular metasearch engine and price comparison tool hopes to become an end-to-end ecommerce platform for flights, and removing the friction at the point of sale is a key part of that strategy.

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Braintree is a Chicago-based online payments provider which was acquired by PayPal in 2013 for $800 billion and competes with other online payments infrastructure providers like Stripe and Worldpay.

Read next: Which is the right online payments solution for your startup? Stripe vs Braintree vs Worldpay vs Adyen

By using Braintree's Forward API Skyscanner - the Scottish startup which acquired unicorn status after a £128 million funding round in 2016, before being acquired by Ctrip for $1.74 billion - can now process flight bookings without bouncing users onto partner websites. The site is also looking to use Braintree's Vault product to securely hold customer's card details to ease repeat purchases so that customers won't have to reenter payment details for each transaction.

Skyscanner says the integration has resulted in flight booking conversion ticking upwards of 20 percentage, with up to 100 percent uplift in ancillary purchases and up to 50 percent in mobile conversion. The company also says basket abandonment is down significantly.

Skyscanner has been busy engaging with partners to integrate with direct bookings and airlines are given their own branded booking funnel (see above). Partners will presumably get the same cut from bookings as before, but could be in line for more revenue as conversion rates go up. Early partners include British Airways and Singaporean low-cost carrier Scoot.

Skyscanner has been working on a 'direct booking' feature for two years now and shifted from its own payments solution to specialist vendor Braintree in April.

Jon Hoar, principal product manager, direct booking at Skyscanner told Techworld that Braintree was the obvious choice when it came to the forwarding API and vault features they needed to power direct bookings. "We needed to collect customer information and payment information and to forward that in a secure way to the partners to complete the booking without touching that payment information", he said.

Hoar says that the aim is to get 100 percent of its partners integrated with direct bookings. However he admits that "there are technical integrations via a booking API which they need to have, and it is not a trivial technical exercise".

Hoar also spoke about the importance of making Skyscanner a "signed in" experience so that it can start to leverage customer data and apply some machine learning for a more personalised shopping experience for users.

Hoar said: "We would love to start doing some personalisation and that is a potential advantage for direct booking. Your preferences can be set to remember things like where you like to sit on the plane. Anything to make your booking process more relevant."

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