Payment Failures? Keep calm and retry!

This happened with me a few days ago. I was paying my electricity bill online when the dreaded thing happened to me; my account got debited but I did not get the notification from the electricity provider or my bank. All this while my dad was sitting beside me and evidently he was worried. I said in full swag, “Dad, you should read my latest post – Kingdom of Payments. I have explained how online payments work at the back end, the authorization and the settlement cycles. We don’t need to worry, the settlement should happen in T+2 days and we shall be intimated by then.” I was interrupted by an angry voice, “Just call up the customer support number and get a confirmation.” Much to my delight the customer support representative reinstated my words and I did get the confirmation on the next day.

Have you faced a similar situation while making online payments; account debited but no intimation, payment failed message from merchant but bank sent message that payment successful with transaction Id; error message like – we are sorry, your current payment method could not be processed; we are facing high failures on this merchant, please try again later. Through this article, we aim to make you aware about the transaction failure reasons so that you keep calm the next time you face transaction failure message.

Technology Failures: The process of online payments is such that each transaction has to go through different entities (issuer, acquirer, card schemes, payment gateway etc.) Each entity must be able to smoothly connect and share data with others in an encrypted manner, and the data must meet the strict & unique security requirements of the receiving entity. Due to technological fluctuations, there are chances of things going wrong and the information not being processed properly. Data flow sometimes does not fully meet the security requirements of the receiving entity, and thus the receiving entity is unable to respond to the information within the allowed time. This leads to ‘Session Expiry’ or ‘Timeouts’ and the transaction is forced to be cancelled.

There are cases where the user reached the Bank’s login page/3D secure page and either has closed the browser or has entered the credentials on these page(s) and closed the browser/pressed back or refresh button. These are known as Forwarded errors.

Down time – Scheduled or Unscheduled: Scheduled or unscheduled down time of the issuer, acquirer, payment gateway or the merchant leads to payment failure. This does not happen very often, but it does happen from time to time, often when there are large numbers of transactions happening through the system. If the payment gateway cannot reach your bank to approve the transaction, they will typically decline the transaction in the bank’s place.  In this case, the only thing to do is try again later when the system is back up.

Invalid data entry / wrong buttons: Online payments require a lot of manual entry which is not only time consuming but also increases chances of wrong inputs leading to failures. Following errors are shown when the user enters wrong input.

  • Txn cannot be authorized – Wrong Password / OTP
  • Signature validation failed – Wrong 3D Secure signature
  • Not Captured – Reasons for this error message:
  1. Card / account doesn’t have sufficient balance
  2. Wrong CVV
  3. Wrong Expiry date

Security Failures: Some issuing banks have aggressive fraud detection mechanism and block transactions that they feel is not normal for your spending habits.  This is usually based on the past purchase behavior and transactions that do not conform with your past spend behavior are often get flagged as fraud. As part of this process, many genuine transactions are incorrectly flagged as fraud and rejected. Some of the errors are:

  • Denied by Risk – Transaction declined due to the security threat from the issuing bank’s end. Some cards are marked for domestic use only and typically not connected to the international payment network.
  • Rejected by Payment Gateway – Payment gateway providers set a mutually decided transaction limit for merchants. If any transaction goes beyond this limit, it is rejected.
  • Card Bin rejected – BIN (Bank Identification Number) is the first six digits of the card, signifying which network and bank the card comes from. Card bin stop listed means that the BIN number (a part of your card number) is among a list of black-listed on account of fraud threat and transactions from such BINs are rejected.

A list for transaction failure message and corresponding meaning can be found here. For payments powered by CitrusPay, when a transaction fails, the customer does not return to square one, but instead finds himself at the payments page, with all the particulars he had filled in still remaining. CitrusPay also helps its merchants with daily and monthly reports pointing out which payment transactions failed, and why. The reports help merchants a good deal to look into the problem areas.


  • Rahul Shroff 17 Feb

    Below payment was made using Citrus Payment Gateway on MEP Bandra Worli Sea Link Website for Recharge of the ETC Tag for 100 Trips.
    Merchant Order Number: 58a47bbe689eb
    Citrus Reference Number: CTX1702151605183648860
    Order Amount: 4849.68 INR
    Transaction Date & Time: Feb 15, 2017 09:33:38 PM
    The above payment was successfully debited to my credit card, but the 100 Trips has not yet been loaded on the ETC Tag. When I contacted the MEP Toll Bridge Office, they said it is a problem relating to Citrus and unless they give approval of successful payment to MEP, the trips cannot be loaded. Dont know where to go

  • RAMANATH raje urs 23 Feb

    I hv also experienced same situation on 20.2.17. I made payment from my iob account to icicle prudential life insurance. My account has already been debited and has ref noICICI prude But icici confirms that they hv not recd this payment. I do not know how to reach u for clarification and recreation the fund

    Ref no 273616214-net@861738 of this transaction. Pl clarify

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