Payments Blog • 6 MIN READ

Managing Multi-party Transactions in a Complex Payments Ecosystem

John Dunne

Written by John Dunne

John Dunne, IR Chief Solutions Office, discussed the emergence of multi-party transactions as consumers and processors demand a better experience. As payment technologies continue to evolve, how will multi-party payment processing change to provide a better experience?

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Scott: So your group of friends has decided to go to tonight's concert and you found a great deal online. The question then becomes how to pay for it. John Dunne, Vice President of Products at IR is here to discuss some ways to make that process easier. John, what are some innovative ways to increase customer satisfaction in a scenario like that?

John: You know, there definitely is room for improvement and in my recent experiences we're starting to see some. But this is one of those classic situations where consumers need to make one transaction with the vendor. I'm going with a group of friends, it's arranged seating. Whether it's a musical concert or a sporting event, we want to sit together to enjoy it as a group. And, the way the ticketing systems work, that needs to be a single transaction. Now, for a lot of people it might not be an issue. You've got a friend who, you know, there's eight of you going and it's 150 bucks a ticket and one of your friends is going to front 1200 on his credit card and you'll then turn up and give him cash. And then he's got to carry that around for a night and feel pretty nervous. But wouldn't it be great if when we're making that one transaction we can split that payment between all the individuals involved? And I think that's one of the scenarios that we talk about in terms of people want to spend money and make transactions in a way that suits their needs, not the way that suits a ticketing system.

Scott: So you say you've seen it a little bit around. What are the remaining hurdles, or is there a hesitancy? What's keeping it from being more widespread?

John: Well, just very recently actually, I had an experience buying some concert tickets with friends, and there was the option to enter multiple credit card numbers. Now, that's going through an existing payments network today that would be multiple payments taking place. And you know, from a ticketing perspective I guess that's one transaction on their end for that block of tickets that we're acquiring. But, I start to wonder about well okay, what happens in this situation if one of those card payments fails? What happens to my block of transactions? And, you don't want to end up in a situation where you're in that half pregnant phase. You don't know. You get together with some friends, you say are you in or you out, you know? Yes, let's go. Someone might forget they've drained their debit card for some reason and they need to give you different card numbers to supply. You want to make sure your transaction happens or your transaction doesn't and whether there's a failure in one payment brings down all of them. You just need good understanding of where you stand in that situation because it's typically an atomic decision. It's like yes we are going, no we are not, and we definitely all want to sit together. We don't want to have, on the backside of this, we don't want to have four transactions of two tickets each. We want to have one transaction of eight tickets and make sure that no one gets there in between us.

Scott: So how do we get there?

John: You know, there's a number of options for how to get there, and the constant example is just one of my little favorites. But I think as we're evolving to the next generation payment platforms, you'll see the emerging standard throughout multiparty transactions. And, there's already some standards in play I know in Australia that involve this kind of capability. But it's where from a financial standpoint the transaction involves more than two people and it can also involve non-monetary things. Such as, I'm purchasing a car and the third party involved in that is the DMV that's going to be involved in the transaction to do the title transfer at the moment the funds change hands.

Scott: So that's how we get there. When do you think we get there?

John: Well, it's a big question on the when. You know, we're just seeing now North America jump on the EMV bandwagon and that's really because the industry regulators have avoided the cost of change for some time until fraud levels got to be unacceptable. And I think what's going to happen here is that the next wave of payments in North America and Europe and Australia is going to be around realtime settlement, it's going to be about having data rich transactions and it's going to be about having multiparty, you know, non-monetary transactions as well. And that, the thinking behind that is certainly underway, but the rollout to adoption is sometime off. And it's going to be the case of probably the regulators mandating things like realtime settlement or near-realtime settlement they're going to drive the next wave of change. That's probably another five years out.

Scott: Proactive performance management solutions. Find out more at

Topics: Payments

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