Referly, a company that has worked to create a system by which individuals recommend products to friends, taking a cut when a referred sale generates a final transaction, has today released an API that should expand its product to a new class of users: businesses.

Rerferly is a company that, in its own words, has the following vision, regarding interpersonal relationships:

Friends are the most powerful recommendation engines of all. Every day we help each other shop for gifts, buy new clothes and music, discover new restaurants and meet new people.

From that perspective, it’s almost perfect: give good recommendations, make money. The other end of that is the potential for friends to spam each other, hoping for a cheap buck and a short path to part-time income. That may well explain why Referly has moved to open its API and increase its appeal to businesses.

Its API is designed to allow any online company to build a referral program. Simple enough, really. Here’s how the company describes the potential impact, while outlining its designed market niche:

[W]e’re expanding our referral network beyond e-commerce sales to incentivize actions that drive the sale of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products. Now SaaS companies can reward their biggest fans when they generate sign-ups, upgrades or other actions in the customer acquisition funnel.”

This is interesting on two levels. First, Referly appears to be moving from its initial product model, by working with brands, and not individual consumers. Secondly, its focus on SaaS companies is evident.

This could be a smart move. SaaS companies derive subscription revenue, implying that each customer has a continuing lifetime value. Therefore, Referly, offering a system to compensate those who send long term customers for a short term price, could be a godsend.

For now, Referly’s new API is live. What companies take it up, and how quickly, is the next question.

Top Image Credit:Wendy