No Payment Left Behind – Summary of Pushpay at PAYMENTSfn

Posted on July 13, 2018 Peter Mollins

Alex Henderson, principal engineer at Pushpay, took the stage at PAYMENTSfn to talk through how Pushpay ensures payment resiliency. Pushpay helps churches grow their community by facilitating tithes, gifts, and other payments – and helping the church to engage with their members.

Early in its development, Pushpay dealt with multiple gateways either directly or through Spreedly. It offered a single payment method, and, when Alex joined, was processing about $1M in gifts per year for its customers. They’re now processing about $3B per year and support ACH and other payments. And they use Spreedly for all credit card processing communications to gateways.

Payments for Churches are Different

Pushpay facilitates the processing of gifts and tithes, so there isn’t an exchange for a good or service. These payments might be one-time or recurring. And there is a large uptick on high traffic days at churches – primarily Sundays in the United States.

The Pushpay team knew that churches are a community where trust is vital. They have to ensure that this trust doesn’t erode. One way it might erode would be if payments from members were not processed as expected.

So, Pushpay had established early on a system to ensure that they knew when processing was interrupted. And when it was, they took a proactive approach to understanding the reasons for it. First, the team classified responses to help in the analysis:

  • User-recoverable errors where a flow could be set up to help users
  • Incident response codes to identify gateway, communication, or provider failure
  • Unknown errors that need to be investigated and classified

Ensuring Payments Resiliency

Now, what should the team do during an outage? The Pushpay team saw that scheduled payments (i.e. payments scheduled into the future) could be temporarily queued until the gateway returned to normal behavior. The team then developed a set of processes to manage this approach.

They configured the system alerts so the on-call team is only notified when needed. And when they are, they have links back to transactions in the Spreedly dashboard so that they can quickly understand what’s going on.

Queued payments can then be tested to make sure that gateway is back up. This capability was so beneficial to customers that it is now marketed as “Assured Payments”. And it’s another way that Pushpay, with Spreedly, helps support payment resilience and ensures that millions of dollars of payments are processed as the church and community expects. And that helps reinforce trust in the community.

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