Previously, the Lyft developer platform API allowed apps like Google Maps and Facebook Messenger to integrate Lyft in order to streamline the user experience, but a smartphone and user account were still required, and ultimately payment would be made through Lyft.
Lyft is now introducing a limited beta for their new Dispatch developer program, which allows greater flexibility and full control in using Lyft as a behind-the-scenes third party transportation service. The Dispatch program would allow companies to arrange a Lyft for a customer without the customer having to directly interact with or pay through Lyft.
Lyft believes developers will use the new API to fully integrate a Lyft into the customer experience. For example, a high-end restaurant could dispatch a Lyft to pick up customers when their reservations are ready, and have the cost included as part of the bill instead of being paid separately by the customer.
Lyft is also targeting the healthcare industry. For elderly or otherwise medically impaired, smartphones may not be the most convenient way to arrange transportation. The Dispatch API would allow Lyfts to be arranged for the client through the healthcare provider, and could even be setup to automatically bill the client's insurance company.