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With Transaction Time Critical, a Strawhecker Platform Monitors Gateway Performance
July 5, 2017

By Kevin Woodward

What’s the measure of a well-performing payment gateway? Time. Or, rather a lack of time.

Image Credit: The Strawhecker Group

Fillinger: “It used to be just a handful of gateways specializing in e-commerce. Now, it’s spread out.”

Gateways, which route online transactions to one of multiple payment processors, are judged on their speediness and reliability. That’s why The Strawhecker Group, an Omaha, Neb.-based payments consultancy, started its Gateway Enterprise Metrics platform. The service monitors the performance of participating gateways in real time.

In May, the average transaction time was 3.2 seconds for the seven gateways in the evaluation. The slowest transaction time was 3.6 seconds, and the quickest was 2.8 seconds.

Of the seven participants, the group includes four of the eight largest U.S. gateways, says Mike Strawhecker, principal at the firm. The company declined to identify the participating gateways. Strawhecker’s service uses signature-debit cards funded by the firm that are sent as card-not-present transactions.

Such measurements, along with the average uptime and gateway-response time, are vital as gateway operators increasingly are called on by merchants to verify the performance of their services.

“It used to be just a handful of gateways specializing in e-commerce,” Chuck Fillinger, senior associate at the firm, tells Digital Transactions News. “Now, it’s spread out.”

The Strawhecker Group counts 156 gateways, which include those operated by processors and acquirers, along with gateway-only providers. Merchants typically will have service-level agreements that providers must meet, Fillinger says. These SLAs, as they are known, stipulate an expectation and may carry a penalty if it’s not met.

It’s not only merchants that want their gateways to validate their performance, but investors, too, Strawhecker says. “Investors want reporting and benchmarking of how good the technology really is,” he says. This helps them know their product’s full capabilities prior to a marketing push. This is especially important as acquirer and gateway valuations grow, he adds.

The Strawhecker program also found that 8 million gateway transactions failed due to reasons such as timeouts along the authorization path. The 8 million figure is extrapolated Strawhecker data. “Each one of the touchpoints can create a timeout,” Fillinger says. “We’re seeing some transactions timing out, but we can’t say why because we don’t have access to all of the endpoints.”

A typical gateway transaction starts at the merchant account, moves to the gateway, and from there goes to the acquirer, processor, network, and card issuer, in that order, before returning down the line following the authorization decision.

The firm also examines the merchant-boarding process for gateway accounts. In one instance, 30 days passed before an account was activated with one gateway.

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