[Note : Posting back in this new blog site as I dumped own wordpress hosting and moved to posterous, oops me geek nomad. This was also posted on pluggd.in ]
Payment gateway is backbone to India’s e-commerce but if you are a startup and observe the current situation (which is improving steadily), you will hear inner voice ‘what the heck why no body is doing something about it’. This inner and expressed voice you will see in almost all blogs in India. But then life goes on, each startup has a problem to solve.
Let me explain how & why I think Payment gateway solution providers are pushing Startups in India to few years backward!
1. Time to Market
If you are developing an e-commerce app and want to release it in few week’s time, it is impossible that you will get payment gateway approved.They take lot longer. They don’t have a ‘sandbox’ environment where you can at least experiment your payment process and solution and fast forward your time to market.
When we first asked for a payment gateway solution during June 2008, one of India’s top solution providers didn’t respond for several weeks. We had few customer waiting to use our service but we were waiting for PG solution to respond to our query.
Hopefully PG providers will respond to market need and move things faster. We are talking about online payment not trunk call as it used be in 70?s.
Usability for me is simple as Jakob Nielsen’s following paragraph.
Jakob Nielsen defines usability : Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.
Usability is defined by five quality components:
Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
Let me share some of bad usability I have encountered
2.1. Payment gateway only shows ‘bank names for credit card’ but doesn’t show ‘bank names with VISA credit card or Bank Names with Mastercard credit card’, so a user proceeds all the way to payment page and while entering ‘card number’, they realise that it only allows 16 digit!! Little they have idea that this payment gateway is only supporting VISA !! User will be pretty mad about it and first reaction is ‘why this ‘e-commerce portal’ didn’t inform me’.
2.2. All payment gateways have a set of steps to go through for a user’s payment processing. Most of of them doesn’t show a simple flow diagram image on their payment landing page or ‘how it works’ link. User has absolutely no idea where he is being led to. Note : Payment gateway takes ~70% of transaction fees and they do a sloppy job.
2.3. Payment gateway asks same question several times!! Take ‘Billing info’ for instance, when payment gateway provider can ask user to submit their billing info on their payment page than why do Payment gateway insist ‘e-commerce portal’ to collect on their web page.
2.4. Payment gateway never inform user on their payment page about unavailability of a bank due to maintenance. They let user proceed to payment and transaction is bound to fail.
Note : Some payment gateways have informed maintenance information just 1 hour before the scheduled maintenance!! Ok, but why can’t their solution make it automated? Simply show a message on payment page, so buyer is informed and doesn’t do a transaction for that bank!
3. Customer Relationship Management
A basic CRM solution/process from Payment gateway will help ‘e-commerce portals’ in a big way to manage their customers. For instance,
3.1. Every transaction request that reaches to a payment gateway page should be tracked and saved. Merchants invest heavily to win every customer, hence having every customer (who attempted to buy services and dropped off) info will build towards successful relationship management. Lot of analytics depends on this.
3.2. If there is a transaction that gets failed due to ‘payment gateway and Bank’ , such transaction should be communicated to Merchant in real-time. NOTE – currently all the payment gateway that we have come across miss this point.
3.3. They could provide an API at least to pull this real time transaction and customer info and allow e-commerce merchant to integrate with their backend CRM. Or basic ‘transaction feed’ will enable ‘e-commerce portal’ to do the backend CRM job.
There are several such scenario where ‘e-commerce merchant’ lives at the mercy of payment gateway.
4. Cost of Support
Due to poor integration between the ‘Payment Gateway’ and ‘Bank’, several support requests get generated to the ‘e-commerce portal’. For the ‘e-commerce portal’, these payment failed/issues are uncalled support, they have better things to do such as their service & product support. The cost of support due to bad payment gateway increases as volume of transaction increases!!
5. Payment Gateway helping your Competitor
Your ‘e-commerce portal’ Startup might be first to market, innovative and steadily building up but watch out : your payment gateway partner may be helping your competitor to win your customers!! Because customer had bad experience with your payment gateway partner, so customer will jump the ship i.e. to your competitor.
This is based on our experience and learning. As they say ‘when you are young if few mistakes happens, quickly learn from it’. After learning from these mistakes, we did take few strong actions like having own better CRM solutions for payment handling, support tickets are getting managed by apps like www.zendesk.com , real-time updates getting generated for each transaction request that goes via our ‘e-commerce portal’ and thanks to our payment gateway partner: at Ayojak, we have 99.99% transactions successfully handled,.