We had an interesting experience with one of our largest customers this weekend that really made us glad about how we have our credit card processing architected.  This all might sound quite boring, but it was a situation where we were able to respond to a customer’s needs at a very critical time, when the failure  was ostensibly out of our control.

At about 9 AM we got word that no credit cards were processing  through our system for this one customer.  Some quick diagnostics showed it wasn’t that we couldn’t process any cards, just not cards for this customer using a particular (un-named) payment gateway.  So what do we do?  It’s Sunday, and our development team is not terribly available, the gateway support line is going to voicemail, and it’s checkout day for a particularly large show.

Because our payment processing is essentially gateway agnostic we had options.  We explained the situation to the customer and suggested that they could set up a new merchant account with a different gateway in minutes.  We recommended Stripe.com expressly for this reason.  Sure enough their accounting department got on it and in 10 minutes we had a functional Stripe merchant account.  We logged in remotely, changed the gateway out, and were back in business.

The reason we could make this change is because we re-architected our payment system this past summer.  We moved all our cards into the gateway agnostic credit card vault at Spreedly.com during this transition.  Spreedly does two key things for us.  First, they securely store cards in their vaults for us and our customers.  This means that cards are available to use in the office and on ShowGroundsLive.com.  The second thing they do for us is give us a single API (geek-speak for how our system talks to theirs) that allows us to communicate with over 50 different gateways.  The Spreedly support department responded to us quickly throughout this crisis and helped us determine the best course of action.

All in all, a failure that could have cost our customer the ability to process any credit cards on the last day of their event was solved in about an hour.