Despite the global pandemic slowing down our economy, it could not bring it to a halt. Things have been improving for our economy. This gradual economic recovery has been made possible in part by the use of credit cards. The pandemic has caused the credit card market to rise tremendously, reaching $103 billion in 2021.
However, even the most effective credit card processing system can fail. Hence, credit card processing outages fall into some of the most difficult challenges to tackle as a business owner.
This article explores why credit card processing outages happen and how you can solve them.
What Is Credit Card Processing Outage?
Credit card processing is the system by which information from a customer’s card is transferred to enable a specific amount of money to be passed from their account to a merchant’s account.
However, there will inevitably be occasional problems with payment processing, given the volume of credit card transactions today. Most of the time, processing customer orders won’t present any difficulties for you. Nonetheless, your credit card processing system can occasionally stop functioning, which would prevent you from taking any more orders. The cause is usually unclear, so you must immediately address the source of the problem.
The Impact of Credit Card Processing Outages on Your Business
An interruption in processing credit cards could harm your business, resulting in lost revenues. A blackout can cause issues for your business if it solely operates online and depends on the internet.
The hardware, which keeps everything connected and operating correctly, is another factor that might cause an outage and lead to a company’s system’s failures. In light of this, purchasing a POS with reliable hardware and a battery backup is imperative. It is advised to buy the hardware and the payment processor from the same firm because it is possible that the hardware won’t be compatible with the payment systems that businesses use.
Unfavorable weather conditions may also prevent the internet from connecting, which could impede the processing of payments. Your internet cables and even your phone service may be affected by harsh weather.
It’s possible that the company’s chosen payment provider – rather than the internet itself – is to blame for the outage. This situation will pressure business owners and employees as many companies that depend on payment providers will be compelled to shut down or maintain operations. For example, after the payment provider Fiserv system failed in 2021, businesses all over the US, including McDonald’s and Ikea, encountered problems processing credit cards. Fortunately, the issue only persisted for a few hours, but even a short period can significantly impact a company’s sales. During the interruption, only cash was accepted by the impacted companies. This is only one of the numerous instances where an electrical failure could force many businesses to close.
How to Prevent Credit Card Processing Outages
You have no control over network outages. It is impossible to stop processor systems from failing. You can, however, use equipment designed for these situations. Let’s examine their operation.
Tools for Weak Connections
There are tools made specifically for regions with inconsistent or slow internet access. If your card machine routinely experiences a “system offline” issue, your connection may be too slow for your equipment, which needs a quicker connection than what you now have.
If your connection speed is constrained, think about using equipment designed for slower speeds. These are usually “affordable” card machines that only need 3G or EDGE speeds. If you regularly find yourself in this scenario, it might be worthwhile to forego some of the offerings of the more advanced machines and switch to a more basic, dependable machine that can operate on a slow connection.
Some PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant solutions permit offline data archiving. POS systems like this one are made to securely store credit card information until a connection can be made and the payment can be completed.
While you should never urge a customer to come back later since you want them to be happy, you can suggest that they utilize another means of payment.
Numerous firms utilize a cash discount scheme. This encourages customers to pay with cash or checks instead of credit cards, cutting the company’s processing costs while giving the client an alternative payment option.
The Best Options to Accept Credit Card Payment Offline
The last thing a customer who is prepared to make a purchase wants to hear from a business owner is to urge them to return later. Given the likelihood that they won’t return, you might as well advise them not to return at all.
Learn how to accept credit card payments while you wait for the system to be operational rather than turning away customers.
Some people might believe they can jot down the client’s credit card details and enter them once the system is operational. However, PCI compliance guidelines forbid this.
Only POS software approved by the SSC (Security Standards Council) can be used to record credit card data and insert it manually. With the help of this software, you can print a consent document for the client to sign and keep the client’s credit card information in their offline-capable system. This form permits you to store the card information until you no longer require it or your customer asks you to erase it.
However, doing this can be risky. Once the system comes back online, there is a chance that the customer will cancel the card before this transaction can be completed. Additionally, they could refuse to let you keep the information on their card or contest the transaction, resulting in you providing them with your goods or services without receiving any payment.
Another good but less attractive option is Card Imprinters. You might be able to recall these bulky, metal, and plastic credit card imprinting devices. Before the 1990s, these devices served as standard equipment for many enterprises.
They function by initially inserting the customer’s credit card into the machine’s bed. After that, the card is covered with a carbon paper form. Next, the name, credit card numbers, and expiration date are imprinted on the carbon paper by sliding the sliding bar back and forth over the top.
Any other information you’ll need can then be written by hand. The CVV number is one example of the data that isn’t engraved on the front. Along with your and the customer’s signatures, you must also put the entire amount charged on the card on the carbon paper. Finally, you give the purchaser the yellow paper copy while keeping the original.
How to Solve Credit Card Processing Outages
Merchants should feel secure with the present, robust payment infrastructure. North American regulators closely monitor payment systems to ensure they are running smoothly.
Therefore, even if an outage can appear overwhelming, it’s rare that it will last for a long time. You may take measures to address the problem after identifying the cause of the outage.
Troubleshoot to Find Out the Issue
Even though it might seem obvious, there are occasions when resetting your router is all it takes to get your internet working again. After numerous tries, if it still doesn’t work, contact your internet service provider and explain the situation.
The same is true for any payment terminals that appear to be acting up; if a straightforward reboot doesn’t work, get in touch with your payment provider.
Purchase a Payment System That is Operational Without WiFi
To avoid the disruption, use a provider offering WiFi alternatives for processing credit card payments. With 4G connectivity, you can be sure that you can still process payments even if your WiFi connection is unreliable.
Even if you’ve never had a credit card processing outage, ask yourself if your company’s payment processor is the right option. You’ll avoid this hassle by working with a provider who can precisely and effectively address your company’s needs.
Have a Commercial Backup Generator
Purchasing a commercial backup generator might make sense depending on the size and type of company you own. This can restore power to your credit card processing systems, which is especially helpful in a power outage.
This is also a wise investment if you run your business in a place where there are often unpredictable weather conditions. Thus, consider your options carefully before choosing a backup generator because various types are available.
Verify the Functionality of Card Operators
Sometimes the issue you’re having isn’t a processing outage but is instead the result of issues with a particular credit card provider, like Mastercard or Visa.
If a significant percentage of users report issues with their cards, such as the inability to make purchases, it may indicate the credit card network is to blame. This is why confirming the status of a provider’s services may resolve this issue.
Communication is Important
If there are no problems with the physical terminals, the power supply, or the internet, the problem with card processing is probably related to the card processing firm. Customer service should be contacted as soon as possible in this situation to find out the root of the problem and the anticipated turnaround time.
Keeping in touch with clients during a power outage is essential for businesses. An important method of reaching clients for this is through social media announcements.
It can be difficult for businesses to communicate unpleasant issues with customers via social media, but open and proactive communication can be helpful in many instances.
Giving customers updates and keeping in touch with them during an outage increases the likelihood that the organization is not at fault. As soon as a problem is identified, transparent communication is provided to all parties to help ease anxiety and show a commitment to finding a solution.
Use the Down Detector Tool
Down Detector is a valuable tool with real-time notifications that alert you if there is a widespread problem with a credit card company or an internet service provider. When there is an outage, it is crucial to determine whether the issue is limited to financial institutions, internet service providers (ISPs), card issuers, or payment processors.
Whenever there is an outage in credit card processing, businesses must identify the root cause. You, as a business owner, can resolve any problems brought on by lapses in credit card processing. The issue can be resolved by creating a communication strategy, having stable internet, and selecting a payment processor with WiFi alternatives.