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In the dark: How to process payments in an outage

Tuesday, September 4, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katie Montgomery
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Most payment processing systems, including point-of-sale terminals, operate through an internet connection. Unfortunately, technology isn’t always the most reliable. It can freeze, glitch or shut down altogether, bringing everything – including processing payments – to a screeching halt. That’s why it’s imperative that your business has equipment in place to keep business transactions up and running in the event of an internet outage.

Solutions are available to combat an internet outage when it occurs, although, most come with a certain amount of risk. As a business owner, calculating that risk is entirely in your hands—only you know what’s best for your business.

Communicating your business needs with your payments provider is the first and most crucial step in ensuring you’re prepared during an outage. Your provider will help you understand their outage policy so you can choose to opt in or out of the outage process. (This can often involve a separate contract due to the amount of risk involved.)

Many offline terminals use a queue system (such as Heartland’s Store and Forward) that allows you to accept and complete transactions. The data from each offline transaction is stored in the queue until the internet connection is reestablished, at which point the terminal sends those stored transactions for approval.

Regardless of how the data is stored, you risk losing the funds for offline transactions because funds may not be available once they are processed. To offer some level of protection, many terminals allow you to set per transaction dollar limits (for example, $20 or less) and/or limit the number of total offline transactions. This limits your risk in the case stored transactions cannot be processed or are lost altogether.

Of course, you are not obligated to use these offline solutions. Some businesses revert to highly discouraged alternative methods—some might say archaic—that are not PCI compliant such as writing down credit card data on paper to be processed later. The safest options, to be completely sure that no transaction is lost, is to close down the store until an internet connection is established or only taking cash during an outage – but that could result in a loss of sales.

No matter how the situation is handled, be sure to contact your payment processor’s customer service or support team to notify them of the outage. This alerts them of the problem and paves the way for customer support to find any underlying issues to protect you from future losses.

How Heartland can help
Heartland is a leader in the payment processing industry and is committed to helping the entrepreneurs of America with their payments, payroll, point-of-sale, customer engagement and lending needs.

Heartland offers a couple of options when it comes to processing payments during an outage using our card terminals or point-of-sale systems.

Our Store and Forward system operates through queue technology to process payments after the point of sale. Store and Forward integrates with Heartland terminals and point-of-sale systems and will prompt the merchant before going into Store and Forward mode, giving you control of how transactions are processed. If a transaction fails, Store and Forward keeps a copy of the card in the system. You can then call the Heartland Service Center to retrieve and process any stored transactions.

Store and Forward has a 400-transaction limit and $130 maximum dollar amount per transaction that offers some protection. Again, the use of Store and Forward does not guarantee transactions won’t be lost or returned as insufficient.

To avoid the risk of having a declined transaction with Store & Forward, payments can be processed through other solutions to keep business running. For exp.,, the Heartland mobile app can process payments through a 4G connection.

In the event of a complete power outage, Heartland customers don’t have to worry about lost transactions. While you’re inoperable without power, Heartland’s point-of-sale systems and card terminals have the ability to close a batch of transactions, which means any payments previously processed won’t get lost, and your business won’t lose sales.

Technology is sure to fail at some point – it’s just part of the technological landscape in which we currently live. However, taking the steps to protect your business when the internet fails is essential. Don’t be caught without the proper equipment. Let Heartland help.  

Heartland is  committed to your business’s success every step of the way. CLICK HERE to find a local sales professional to help you get your business set up today.

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