SA banks on standby to deal with Black Friday payment issues

Black Friday is expected to be one of the biggest sales days on the South African calendar in 2017, and South Africa’s banks say they’re ready to take on the anticipated boost in transaction volumes on the day.

In 2016, some Black Friday shoppers were left in the lurch at till points and checkout screens when payments and transactions failed. At the time, retailers pointed a finger to the banks, saying that their systems were struggling to cope with the unprecedented number of transactions taking place.

The most notable culprit was with 3D Secure, which became overloaded, leading to failed transactions and forcing customers had to use EFTs to make payments.

Online sales volumes in 2016’s sale increased by over 300% on the day when compared to other peak days like payday. With volumes expected to be even bigger in 2017, South Africa’s banks and retailers are likely to be under even more pressure.

For this year’s big sale, BusinessTech asked the banks if they were ready to take on the expected jump in transactions numbers, and if they were expecting any bumps along the way.

Absa said that it is expecting a big increase in transactional volumes as consumers respond to 2017 Black Friday offers, and said it will have technical teams on standby, prepared for the spike in card usage.

The total Absa customer issuing spend for the 2016 Black Friday weekend was R1.02 billion, it said, with 25 November 2016 the highest spend day for the year on just over a R1 billion in turnover. The average transactional value was R515 per customer.

Nedbank said that was always working to improve its payment platforms, “to ensure safer, frictionless and convenient banking experiences” for customers.

For Black Friday, the bank said: “We expect that our systems will be able to cope with the anticipated high volumes during Black Friday. In the unlikely event that clients and merchants experience any glitches, they can contact the Nedbank call centre for assistance.”

Capitec said that Black Friday in 2016 saw the group have one of the highest transaction volumes of the year.

“We expect it to be the same this year and are constantly upgrading our systems to be able to handle the anticipated volumes,” it said.

Standard Bank and FNB were asked for comment, but did not respond by time of publication.

If you run into trouble with transactions on Black Friday, the banks recommended you get into contact with them through their call centres or digital channels. Shoppers should also be ready to use other methods of payment where available – like Instant EFT – in the event that credit card transactions fail as they did in 2016.

Here are the call centre numbers for the SA banks:

  • Nedbank: 0860 555 111
  • FNB: 0875 759 404
  • Capitec: 0860 102 043
  • Standard Bank: 0860 123 000
  • Absa: 0860 008 600

Online retailers should take note

In many cases, the problems with transactions happen on the retailer side – from server issues, to the aforementioned problems with 3D Secure.

According to payment gateway, PayFast, while retailers will have to deal with high traffic volumes on their own, to avoid any big transaction issues – particularly with online payments – they should also prepare by making sure that all payment methods are enabled to give customers as many payment options as possible.

Shoppers should check out payment options available on their selected retailers’ websites ahead of making purchases.


Read: Takealot is expecting its biggest Black Friday sales peak ever

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SA banks on standby to deal with Black Friday payment issues