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Stripe readies businesses for Strong Customer Authentication in Europe

Today, payments infrastructure company Stripe announced a series of updates to its product stack for businesses operating in Europe, and acquired a Dublin-based tech company called Touchtech Payments.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is coming

On September 14, 2019, SCA will come into force in Europe, radically changing the way people buy and sell online. More than 300 million European consumers will need to confirm their identity for the majority of their online purchases, using two of the following: something they know (e.g., a password), possess (e.g., a phone), or are (e.g., their fingerprint).

Hundreds of thousands of European online merchants—from retailers, to ridesharing companies, to crowdfunding services—will have to upgrade their payments set-up to prepare for the upcoming regulation. If they don’t, their transactions will be declined outright. When similar regulation was enforced in India in 2014, some businesses reported an overnight conversion drop of over 25%, due to the extra step in the payments experience. And while European regulators created a number of SCA exemptions for low-risk transactions (e.g., low value transactions, white-listing by end customers…), most merchants will simply not be able to leverage them on their own.

“SCA is a ticking time bomb for the European payments industry. Merchants must deal with a complex set of changes to the payment flow that can have a disruptive impact on the customer experience. Yet, awareness among merchants is low,” said Ron van Wezel, Senior analyst at Aite Group. “Payment service providers are at a turning point. SCA is simply too complex for any merchant to manage on its own, including for large online businesses. Payments providers who can abstract away SCA complexity will have a significant advantage over their competitors.”

New Stripe products to make SCA as seamless as possible for online businesses

Today, Stripe is announcing new products and updates to help merchants implement the best SCA-ready authentication methods to their checkout page and dynamically trigger SCA when required:

  • The Payment Intents API: a new dynamic payments API that lets businesses design their own SCA-ready payment forms, and accept the best authentication methods (e.g., 3D Secure 2, Apple Pay, Google Pay) through a single integration.
  • Checkout: a pre-built payments page optimized for SCA that merchants can integrate with just a few lines of code.
  • Billing: a suite of tools for subscription businesses that identify which charges require SCA and send customizable emails to subscribers when additional authentication is needed.
  • Dynamic support for SCA exemptions on low-risk transactions (e.g., whitelisting, recurring transactions, low amount): behind the scenes, Stripe dynamically scans every transaction to trigger SCA only when required, protecting both users’ safety and merchants’ revenue.

Stripe’s products are built with an uncertain future in mind. When new authentication requirements arise in Europe and elsewhere, Stripe will update its logic to protect merchants’ revenue against all odds, with few to no changes needed to their integration. To help merchants navigate the complexity of SCA, in addition to the new and updated integration products, Stripe is launching SCA guides, SCA-ready payments flow designs, SCA-ready API documentation, and SCA webinars, all of which can be found on the new SCA web page.

An acquisition – Touchtech Payments – to accelerate SCA readiness for financial institutions

Stripe also announced it has acquired Dublin-based Touchtech Payments—a software company that provides advanced SCA-ready authentication technology for some of Europe’s leading fintechs and challenger banks, like N26, Transferwise, and many others. By providing advanced authentication technology for credit card issuers, Touchtech Payments helps them offer better payments experiences for their customers, without having to choose between security and user experience.

“On the modern internet, payments should be everything you’d expect: easy, secure, and fully compliant with the latest regulations. Unfortunately, these three attributes are often at odds with one another, making it nearly impossible for an individual business to keep pace with regulatory changes and build a great payments product experience for their customers,” said Will Gaybrick, Stripe’s Chief Product Officer. “Touchtech adds yet another layer to the economic infrastructure Stripe is building for the internet, which is designed to help businesses comply not only with SCA but also with the entire next generation of regional payment regulations.”

Aneta Larkins

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