C-PAY Technical Overview

In a world full of sophisticated, business empowering technologies, it is amazing how many automated processes are actually backed by human intervention. And in a world full of supposedly plug-in and ready to play computer systems, it is amazing how many business technologies still take months to set up.

The task of payment processing, one of the oldest and most rudimentary of all business functions, tells a story that is no different. In fact, the cost of processing payments compounds every time a new customer-payment method appears. More customer offerings equals more supporting processes and more supporting processes usually means more manual labour. First it was just the shop front and the lone cash register, now we have to set up systems to process payments being received from Interactive Voice Response (IVR) units, Web sites, Call Centres, Kiosks, Credit Cards, Loyalty Cards and soon, wireless technology. And who knows what is next?

Each of these functions brings with it a different set of implementation and maintenance requirements that have to be smoothed into the workings of every other component of the payment process. These components include real-time banking gateways, other payment functions, company networks and customer management/accounting systems. Despite the mandatory initial development effort, this smoothing usually requires some form of ongoing manual intervention that ranges from consolidation of the reports from various customer-facing systems to re-entering data from one system into another.

In the most severe, but not uncommon case, an organisation with a number of different payment channels could have again as many different banking processes, reporting processes and system maintenance methods.

As an organisation strives to offer its customers the best technology available, the hidden complexities of operating and managing a payment process can become overwhelming. C-PAY grew out of this environment of hidden and ongoing costs.

How could we automate the payment process in such a way as to consolidate every possible customer payment method into one system and still accommodate the real-time and off-line processing requirements of each individual payment method or user type? In effect, how could we manage their individual needs for security, data transfer, fault tolerance, grade of service and reporting and insulate the payment devices from changes to the banking or billing system interfaces?

We could have paid for the design, build and test of inflexible communications between customer facing applications and banking interfaces... over and over again (for each payment method or banking change) from the ground up. Or we could have developed a product to remove the vast majority of implementation effort and provide a flexible tool for management of changing business requirements.

C-PAY's main goal was to remove as much development effort as possible from the implementation of a fully automated, integrated and centrally managed payment process and provide the most flexible base for future exchange of customer-facing or transaction-processing devices (such as EFT gateways).

The automation had to cover all areas of credit validation, data transfer, reporting and management of the business rules controlling the behaviour of all payment types, payment channels and their users.

The integration had to be able to encompass all components of the payment process: customer payment devices (e.g. IVR, Call Centre, Web Sites, Batch etc.), transaction processing devices (in-house and internet banking gateways) and customer management systems (CRM, accounts receivable and subscriber management systems).

"C-PAY has done for payment processing what DBMS did for data processing. Why build a management system when you can buy it off the shelf?" - Ray Guy, Chief Technical Officer

The control had to provide a single point of configuration (without programming) of the business rules governing the behaviour of the automation (as it pertained to each connected payment channel) and a single point of reporting for all connected payment channels (primarily to provide a single point of bank reconciliation).

Needless to say, C-PAY has evolved from these initial requirements into a fully functional, tested and warranted middleware.

Solving the problem of high-volume payments processing

There are many organisations that need to process large numbers of Card Not Present payment card transactions. These companies discover that the raw EFT technology provided by the banks does not provide the robustness of business process they need to be on-line, all the time. They have also discovered that the batch file processing traditionally used provides slow feedback and expensive exception handling. Managing the reconciliation of payments through traditional technology is labour intensive and, in many cases, impractical. C-PAY is an integrated software suite that solves these problems and provides a single management interface for payments. With C-PAY you are able to:

  • Process payments in real time, from different channels with high-availability
  • Load balance payments across multiple back-end devices and gateways
  • Manage bank downtime with your own stand-in and routing rules
  • Allow you to process transactions to all acquiring banks
  • Implement user-defined business rules for processing payments
  • Integrate into your existing business applications easily
  • Automate the exception management process
  • Produce management reports on all transactions and cash
  • Slash implementation time and cost