The Achilles Heel of Payment Terminals: Connectivity Outages

Connectivity outages like the one we experienced in Australia late last year have exposed the weakness of payment terminals reliant on one connectivity provider.

Connectivity outages have a profound impact on the digital infrastructure of a country, including vital services such as payment terminals. These outages not only disrupt consumer transactions but also have broader implications for businesses and the economy.

Recent outages and their impact

Australia has experienced several significant connectivity outages that have affected payment terminals and broader digital services. A notable example is the Optus outage in November 2023, which hit millions of users, including critical services like hospitals and banks.

The Square outage in September 2023 was also significant, impacting thousands of small businesses that couldn’t accept payments. According to Downdetector there have been more than 18,000 Square outages.

What about Telstra’s outage in April 2023? And Vodafone in 2021? They may be infrequent but even just these listed have had a significant impact.

Impact to Consumers, Businesses, and the Economy

The impact of connectivity outages on payment terminals extends across the consumer spectrum, businesses, and the broader economy. For consumers, these outages translate to an inability to complete transactions, leading to frustration in a world where cash is increasingly not an option for many. For businesses, especially in the retail and service sectors, outages can lead to significant sales losses, damaged customer relationships, and operational disruptions. On a macroeconomic level, frequent or prolonged outages can undermine consumer confidence, affect the reliability of digital economy frameworks, and potentially lead to tangible losses in GDP.

The Concept of Combined Telecoms Infrastructure

Paul Budde, a notable figure in the telecommunications sector, has advocated for the concept of a combined telecoms infrastructure to mitigate the risks associated with connectivity outages. This approach entails integrating the digital infrastructure of various telecom providers to create a more robust and resilient network. By distributing the load and redundancy across multiple providers, the network can better withstand individual failures, ensuring continuous connectivity for payment terminals and other critical services.

The role of IoT Connectivity in creating more resilience

But we don’t need to ‘wait and see’ whether Budde’s advice becomes a reality.

The devices which collect our payments fall within the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT), and typically transmit small amounts of data very frequently (unlike our mobile phones, for example, which are data-heavy). That makes cellular IoT connectivity a more suitable alternative to a traditional, single-carrier service.

Dedicated IoT connectivity offers redundancy by connecting to multiple networks across the country or globe. It’s similar to Budde’s recommendation but without the need for commitment to a single connectivity provider or telco. This gives businesses resilience to continue operating and taking or facilitating transactions, whether it’s an independent company with a single payment terminal, or a financial services provider managing thousands of devices across multiple geographies.

Let’s have a chat if you’re interested to learn more about Thinxtra’s cellular connectivity and how it provides reliable connectivity at scale via a single IoT SIM.

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