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By Paul Heywood, Managing Director and VP of EMEA, Dyn

Cashless payments are undoubtedly growing in popularity. In August this year, 89 million contactless transactions were made – representing growth over the year of 235.9% and more than £633 million was spent using the technology. With such growth in popularity, it was not all that surprising to learn that cashless payments have overtaken notes and coins as the UK’s preferred form of payment. The launch of Apple Pay this year will, too, have a significant impact on these figures, signalling that an entirely cashless economy will soon be upon us.

But, in this cashless economy, are merchants and financial organisations readily prepared to support electronic payments and services through the digital supply chain? There is already an increased dependency on digital assets from websites, mobile apps and connected devices. Simultaneously, advancements in cloud and content distribution technology have allowed organisations to support the growing digital economy. Every digitally-connected business faces the challenge of ensuring their Internet Performance is consistent across all platforms and borders.

Any organisation looking to provide an exceptional end-user experience across their digital properties will ensure a well-executed technology strategy is in place. However, not all are aware that Internet Performance plays a vital role in this. Internet Performance bolsters the entire digital process ensuring that, regardless of demand, time or physical location, all transactions and updates reliant on the public Internet work properly.  It supports the business’ ability to monitor, control and optimise online infrastructures. In this way, organisations can guarantee that their online solutions will be consistently available, efficient and secure – even across complex, distributed cloud/IT infrastructure deployments.

An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises

Internet Performance can be defined as meeting customer demands and expectations through secure, fast, reliable and efficient assets delivered via the web. Traffic spikes have a reputation for slowing and possibly crashing websites or access to important data. Whilst the issue may lie outside an organisation’s own network, if it affects performance it ultimately affects revenue and brand reputation – something the financial sector cannot afford to compromise. If banks and merchants’ digital services suffer downtime or delays for whatever reason, both businesses and consumers will not hesitate to move their business to another organisation. To mitigate this risk, organisations need to have a strategy in place for load balancing and failover in the cloud.

Security is another priority we should turn our attention to. A YouGov study carried out earlier this year found that nearly of consumers (47%) would not use their phone to make payments, with 81% citing concerns over security being their main reason for not doing so. Of course, you only have to read the news to see why consumers have these reservations – data theft and cybercrime is rife and banks are very much aware of this. Data can be hijacked and delivered incorrectly when it is misrouted through the improper Domain Name System (DNS). This can result in a DDoS attack (which can either be malicious or accidental) where the source is more than one – and often thousands – of unique IP addresses. Alerting organisations of performance issues as soon as they happen will be crucial for mitigating potential risks and allow organisations to take effective, reactive measures to remedy any issues.

Meeting customer expectations

Delivering a consistent and efficient end-user experience is essential to completing transactions rapidly and reliable – and thus, maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction. Whether a customer connects to online financial services through a web browser or mobile app, few are aware that the content displayed and transmitted is from multiple locations, including data centres, CDNs and cloud providers, which can often be hosted in different locations around the world. Customers expect a predictable and simple user experience, so if they cannot depend on consistency across their banking experience, they will abandon the app or service. Here, controlling traffic via the DNS layer can ensure the best response times so that customers receive the same experience, regardless of their location.

Scale does not necessarily lead to Internet Performance issues and high latencies if the right precautions are made. Financial organisations need to plan for the best cloud, datacentres and CDN hosting vendors based on their target customer locations. Vendors’ services may vary in speed, access to routing tables and the ability to securely deliver data to its intended target. Some Internet intelligence tools can objectively analyse this information, so companies can optimise their digital assets so that their customers receive the best online experience possible.

The bottom line

The Payments Council predicts that by 2024, just 34% of consumer payments will be paid in cash. Therefore, the risk of digital banking suffering downtime or delays needs to be completely eliminated as there will be fewer alternative payment methods to rely on. Never before has it been so important for financial services organisations to monitor and control their cloud providers, CDNs and datacentres as part of their Internet Performance monitoring. If Internet Performance is not a priority, banks and merchants risk losing out on reliability, reputation and trust—factors that keep valuable customers returning.