On Black Friday in 2016, many online shoppers were unable to complete orders as sites were unable to process their credit card payments.
The outages were linked to a security provider which couldn’t handle the high number of transactions on the day.
“Speaking from [our] perspective, last Black Friday’s credit card payment issues were caused by extremely slow response times from Bankserv to our payment service provider, which at the time was Paythru,” said Takealot CFO Gary Altini.
Paythru received slow response times from Bankserv when making 3D secure-related requests to it. This resulted in pressure being placed on Paythru’s systems.
3D Secure is an authentication and anti-fraud mechanism that requires you to verify ownership of a credit card before a transaction will take place.
Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode are implementations of 3D Secure, which Bankserv operates on behalf of issuing banks.
“Bankserv of course may well have been affected by performance issues experienced by one of the other players in the chain. We do not know to what extent this was the case,” said Altini.
Everything must work
This raises a problem for online retailers: how do you guard against a critical payment system going down that you have no control over?
“The only solution we’re aware of would be for either the acquiring banks or the payment solution providers to create 3D Secure redundancy by integrating with a second 3D Secure provider,” said Altini.
This level of redundancy comes at a cost, but Altini said they feel it is an imperative.
“Through our payment service provider Paygate, we have been able to form an acquiring relationship with Bidvest Bank,” he said.
“Bidvest do use Bankserv, but are also able to provide 3D secure processing via an alternative provider. This creates the redundancy we require.”