Black Friday rush knocks websites and payment services offline in South Africa

Several online retailers and the payment systems they use have buckled under the pressure of Black Friday.

Takealot.com briefly displayed a “website under maintenance” message this morning and shoppers are reporting that their credit card payments are being declined.

Raru has sent a notification to its clients to inform them it is experiencing high traffic on credit card transactions.

“If you cannot process your payment, change your payment method on your order to [Electronic Fund Transfer] and send us the proof of payment,” said Raru.

Stores are directing clients to their banks for answers, and ABSA contact centre told us the problem appears to be with the authentication systems of card merchants – such as 3DSecure and Verified by Visa.

According to MasterCard, however, its systems are up and running.

“MasterCard systems are up and running as per usual and are not experiencing any issues,” the company told MyBroadband.

A Visa representative was not immediately available for comment.

Increased volumes

Ecommerce payment gateway provider PayU said it saw up to 9-times its normal traffic on Black Friday.

“At 06:00 this morning we were already seeing traffic volumes that we see around 10:00 on a normal day.”

However, payment issues are not being caused by the load on its systems, said PayU.

“All our internal payment systems are up and running. There is a general problem with service providers which is not specific to PayU and may impact online sales in general.”

PayFast MD and founder Jonathan Smit said that by 10:00, they had processed about 80% of the transaction volume of other busy days – pay day, for example – and about 100% of comparable value.

“So there is definitely increased volume and people are also spending more than they normally would,” he said.

“Our systems have not experienced any downtime today. We planned for Black Friday based on experience from comparable busy days and expect to process 50-100% more volume today.”

Where problems have occurred is with 3D Secure authentication and selected banks who have been struggling with the load, he said.

“BankservAfrica manages the 3D Secure system on behalf of most of the banks – all payment providers and merchants are reliant on them for this function.”

“The systems governing the process have been intermittently unavailable or slow to respond to authentication requests. Selected banks have also struggled with their part in the authentication process.”

Now read: How to check if South African online shops are down during Black Friday

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Black Friday rush knocks websites and payment services offline in South Africa