Designing resilience in payments

If your business relies on payments, then it relies on payments resilience.

So what is “payments resilience” anyway?

Payments resilience refers to the capability of a payments service to maintain its uptime and provide resistance to attack and downtime.

There are very providers globally that can provide a 100% payments uptime guarantee 365 days a year – so if you’re not processing your payments through one of those avenues, then what are you going to do when they are not operating?

The options available to you are:

  1. Accept that your payments processing will not be available 100% of the time and plan to deal with outages or failures
  2. Find a processor that can guarantee 100% uptime
  3. Spread the load over a number of processors

One of the elements of design that most senior engineers understand is that going from 99% of anything to 100% of anything almost requires double the effort!

Not up 100% of the time

Most financial institutions globally do not offer 100% uptime. Put simply, they cannot afford the financial liabilities that attach themselves to such promised uptime. So, if you approach a financial institution and are advised that they are up 100% of the time, test them.

Ask for data on uptime. Ask for public graphs on uptime.

That leaves you with going to a payments processor. The fact is that while most processors may build for 100% uptime and may be better than the offerings from financial institutions, not many achieve that goal.

The “cloud” for payments processing is not a saviour either. ¬†Architecting payments processing for the “cloud” has also had a chequered past. Most processors and institutions have had mixed success, but none have dominated.

If you want to accept, or simply need to accept (and yes, there is a difference), that payments are not going to be available 100% of the time, then contact us – we can help you develop a plan to deal with these situations.

Finding a processor with 100% uptime

There are not many processors capable of performing at this rate. If you do find one, then you need to ask some basic questions, such as:

  • Why do they maintain a 100% uptime?
  • Can you show me customers who have this uptime and the reasons that they need this uptime?
  • What is the additional cost of this performance uptime?
  • What other functions are made available to me – such as prioritised customer service when an outage does actually occur.

If you want assistance in processing your payments 100% of the time, then contact us – we can help develop a plan and appropriate questions to be asking in order to make the right decisions upfront and longer-term.

Spreading the payments load over processors

This option is not for the faint-hearted, requires a specialised engineering effort on your behalf and the careful choice of processors and financial institutions. Here are some of the challenges:

  • End-funds that you are collecting have to ultimately end up in one bank account – otherwise the finance team in your business will have a painful time executing simple functions such as reconciliation and simple costs management.
  • If you are storing credit/debit cards, then they will need to be stored with a token (to maintain PCI-DSS compliance) – how do you get those tokens operating with multiple processors and financial institutions?
  • How are you going to manage chargebacks from multiple sources?
  • Is your business financially capable of accepting additional costs in performing a transaction, both from a pure cost perspective and a staff overhead perspective?

Remember, you’re not alone.

We are here to help. 

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