Why Credit Card Processing Outages Occur and How to Handle Them

As widespread as credit card usage is, this payment technology can still malfunction due to technical errors such as processing outages. Though they don’t happen often, credit card processing outages can wreak havoc on your system. For every minute that passes during this period, you’re losing revenue and annoying your customers.

The good news: there are several preventative measures and security solutions that can help merchants address this issue. Read on to learn why processing outages happen and how to prepare for them!

What Is a Credit Card Processing Outage?

Any business that wants to accept credit cards must invest in card processing systems provided by their payment processors. When this system is disrupted, payments won’t be able to go through, resulting in a credit card processing outage.

Oftentimes, these disruptions will be caused by equipment failure or other technical issues on your hand. Other times, the problem will lie with your internet provider or payment processor. Regardless of how the disruption occurs, you’ll need to troubleshoot it to find the source of the problem and fix it before your business can accept credit cards again.

Why Do Credit Card Outages Happen?

There are four main causes of credit card outages: widespread power outages, payment software outages, internet issues, and software malfunctioning.

• Widespread power outages: Widespread outages can happen due to a downed power line, power grid problems, or inclement weather. Unfortunately, these issues are practically unavoidable. All you can do is contact the power company and request repair estimates.

• Payment software outages: If a payment provider is having issues, all brands doing business with them could be affected as well. In 2021, for instance, TSYS had an outage that affected 80,000 U.S. retailers. The outage only lasted for 30 minutes, but the event still made national news. Again, there’s not much you can do here except have another merchant account on hand.

• Internet issues: Without a working internet connection, processing credit card transactions will be impossible. If you’re seeing connectivity issues, contact your internet provider to find out what’s going on. If the issue is on your end, try rebooting the router or troubleshooting your Wi-Fi signal.

• Software malfunctioning: If your POS system stops working, the card reader will be unable to process any transactions. The best way to avoid this issue is to check for software updates regularly and install them as soon as they’re available.

What to Do During a Credit Card Outage

After determining the root cause of the outage and/or contacting your payment processor, the next best thing you can do during an outage is to communicate with your customers. Try to get ahead of any complaints by announcing the outage on social media. If the outage is taking a while to resolve, consider offering discount codes to make up for the inconvenience.

To avoid unnecessary cash flow disruptions during an outage, make sure to offer alternative payment methods to your customers. These can include cash, checks, direct deposits, or digital payment channels such as Venmo and Apple Pay. Offline options such as card imprinters, while often considered outdated, can also be a lifesaver for brick-and-mortar stores.

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