Industry Update
Opinion Article12 September 2019

PSD2 IN REAL LIFE: How The New Payment Service Directive Works for Hotels and Online Bookings

By Shlomit Kugler, CEO | MyCheck, A Shiji Group Brand

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PSD2 IS OLD NEWS
By now, you've likely heard about the new credit card payment service directive and its potential repercussions in our industry. What you may not know, however, is that PSD2 is nothing new in fact, it was first implemented back in 2015, even though not all its parts were enacted simultaneously. Strong Customer Authentication, particularly, was meant to come into force only on September 14th, 2019, four years after the approval of the directive. So, you'd imagine the industry to be ready, wouldn't you? Well, not quite...

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KNOWLEDGE, POSSESSION, AND INHERENCE

So, what is PSD2? At its core, it is merely an updated version of the current payment service directive. With the introduction of PSD2, for buyers to shop online with credit cards (or to make banking transactions), they will have to provide two distinct means of authentication at the time of purchase. "For a purchase to be authorized, under PSD2", HospitalityNet highlights in an

MR. SMITH BOOKS A HOTEL ROOM: WHEN DOES SCA APPLY?

Mr. Smith books a hotel room online. At the moment of payment, he enters his credit card number and proceeds to checkout. Once the credit card data are entered, the transaction will have to pass a test called the Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA), to evaluate if SCA is needed or not. Even under PS2D, some transactions will still be exempted from SCA: contactless payments and all the transactions where the credit card owner is physically present at the moment of payment, for example, will not fall under the regulation; so, if Mr. Smith arrives at the hotel to book his room, and he is present during the transaction, then no authentication will be needed. Purchases made over the phone or via email will follow the same logic, so if Mr. Smith calls the hotel and gives his credit card data over the phone, there will be no need for SCA. Remember, exemptions are numerous, and many variables can apply even to similar cases, but, for the purpose of this article, we will only cover the main ones.

Back to Mr. Smith: the TRA test is now deciding if a double authentication is needed. The test evaluates the risk of fraud, ranging from low to high. If the transaction is for an amount under 30€, for example, no authentication is needed, provided that the same card was not used for more than five transactions (or for a total of over 100€) over the last 24 hours. So, if the room or upgrade costs 29€, and Mr. Smith did not buy anything else the same day, then no authentication is needed. Note that, even with exempted transactions, the bank will always have the final say, so it could decide that SCA is required even for low-risk purchases.

Now, Mr. Smith still needs to complete the payment for the room he wants to book at the start of the example. The total amount is 500€, and he never booked this hotel before. The TRA test decides that this is -potentially- a riskful transaction, and requires Mr. Smith to double-authenticate it. He will, therefore, need to provide two out of the three types of accepted authentication. Here are a two examples:

  • By unlocking his phone ("possession" = something "he owns") with his fingerprint ("inherence" = something "he is")
  • By inserting a password ("knowledge," = something "he knows") and recognizing a trusted mobile device ("possession" = something "he owns").

Under PSD2, the sole one-time PIN via SMS authentication on an unlocked phone will not be enough anymore, as a thief could have access to both by merely stealing the phone, making the two factors fall under the same category (proof of "possession"), and they will still be able to provide at least one more type of authentication.

PSD2 IN HOSPITALITY

Some people already referred to PSD2 as "GDPR on steroids." Maybe. What is certain is that the topic is vast and full of ramifications so, if you're looking for an exhaustive read on the topic, I suggest you take a look at this piece by Pablo Delgado and Daniel Badenas from Mirai. This article focuses less on theory but effectively deconstructs possible "what-if?" hotel scenarios to illustrate how PSD2 could look like in real life. First of all, let's start by reassuring you: unlike GDPR, hotels cannot be fined for not conforming with the directive. Only the final payment platform and merchant model businesses could be held responsible for breaches. Anyhow, it does not mean that the introduction of PSD2 should be taken lightly, as there are (many) cases where your day-to-day operations will have to adapt accordingly.

Here are some, most-likely, scenarios:

  • MR. SMITH BOOKS A FLEXIBLE OR A NON-REFUNDABLE RATE ON AN OTA (MERCHANT MODEL)
  • For reservations received through an OTA with the merchant model (the OTA collects the money from in behalf of the hotel), existing processes will not change. In this case, the OTA is the one collecting money from the final guest and providing hotels with a virtual card, so hotels will not need double authentication to process the payment.
  • MR. SMITH BOOKS A NON- REFUNDABLE RATE ON AN OTA (AGENCY MODEL)

When it comes to non-refundable reservations received through an OTA with the agency model, your hotel will have to (quite drastically) change its internal processes and systems to ensure the payment is validated: first of all, the hotel must process these payments via an online payment gateway that is PSD2-complaint. If you do not have a gateway with that security compliance, the alternative is not ideal: you don't authorize the card for any portion of the rate and cross your fingers that the guests eventually arrive. If and when the guest arrives, then the payment can be treated as "card-present," skipping SCA.

Nonetheless, hotels will not be able to bill any no-shows or penalties for late cancellations: manual charges on physical card readers won't work, as the single credit card number could not be enough to process the payment, and guests could still dispute the charge and lead to a potential chargeback for the hotel. To address the issue, Expedia recently launched a free cancellation fee management tool: "When a traveler makes a Hotel Collect booking, Expedia Group validates the customer card and captures the necessary authentication information. An Expedia Virtual Card (EVC) number will be provided to you, so you will no longer see a guest card number. [If Expedia is not able] to charge the card because it doesn't have sufficient funds or has become invalid, [it will] remove the fee and commission on the reservation.

  • MR. SMITH BOOKS A 4-MONTH-EARLY-BIRD FLEXIBLE RATE ON BRAND.COM

Even though travelers' booking windows get shorter every year, early bookings are still frequent in specific cases (beach resorts, MICE hotels...). These reservations usually come with great perks for the guests, such as heavily discounted rates but, under PSD2, processing the payment can be challenging, as SCA comes with an expiration date: double authentication only lasts for 90 days, so hotels will have to acquire multiple authentications for the same reservation. A workaround is to utilize Merchant Initiated Transactions (MIT), as long as the terms and conditions are clear on the booking engine because the guest's payment information will have to be already present (and authorized) in the hotel's PMS, booking engine, or CRS. Even though every initial purchase WILL need to be authenticated via SCA, future transactions with the same card could be considered MIT, thus exempted from SCA requirements. This is a particularly favorable scenario for loyalty programs' members, for example.

  • MR. SMITH BOOKS A FLEXIBLE RATE ON BRAND.COM, BUT IT IS A NO-SHOW

According to a VISA study, the hotel industry average no-show rate is "one-to-two percent of all reservations," meaning, "an estimated expense to the hotel industry of $50 to $100 million per year". Under PSD2, you will not be able to process guests' credit cards if they're not physically at the hotel (card-present), or if they do not double-authenticate the transaction (card not present). It is improbable that a guest will agree to pay for something they did not use, so the hotel is caught in a bind. Unless the no-show penalty has been charged during the booking process (which is rare), then it is unlikely that the no-show guest will double authorize it. The solution is to use the MIT workaround.

CONCLUSIONS

These are just a few of all the possible scenarios, as more will surface once the directive is enforced. At a first look, it seems that -from a hoteliers' perspective- the cons outweigh the pros. Our suggestion is to implement the following strategy:
  1. Implement a card-not-present payment gateway to make day-to-day operations less burdening. If you have a PMS, you likely already have a gateway, but it won't be of any help if you do not have access to the guest's physical card;
  2. Offer guests the option to store their payment methods for future use, exempting the transaction from SCA;
  3. Integrate alternative forms of payments in your ecosystem as they do not fall under the PSD2 directive. Even though underused in our industry, payment methods such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, WeChat, and AliPay are on the rise.
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Shlomit Kugler

Together with her 3 partners, Shlomit founded MyCheck in 2011. Shlomit is the Global CEO, responsible for managing MyCheck’s activities internationally. Shlomit was formerly an Account Supervisor with Saatchi and Saatchi Israel and prior to that, helped develop another startup while living in London.

    More from Shlomit Kugler

    About Shiji Group

    Shiji Group provides software solutions and services for the hospitality, food service, retail and entertainment industries, ranging from hotel management solutions to food and beverage and retail systems, payment gateways, data management, online distribution and more.

    Founded in 1998 as a network solutions provider for hotels, Shiji Group today comprises 4,000 employees in 80+ subsidiaries and brands, serving over 60,000 hotels, 200,000 restaurants, and 600,000 retail outlets.

    Shiji develops a network of cloud technology platforms that facilitate data exchange by connecting businesses vertically and horizontally across related industries. The importance of cross-industry integration to connect all levels of the supply chain, from guests to distributors and suppliers of all types is a critical part of our mission. Our goal is to facilitate the transition to fully integrated systems for our clients through a network of platforms that communicate securely and easily so our clients can focus on their core competencies of serving their guests.

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