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The way we shop is changing. Online businesses need to be ready

Dominic White, Visa's acting country manager for Ireland, on how ecommerce businesses in Ireland can prepare for EU payments regulation, SCA

It is even more important that businesses provide a positive, secure and great experience when selling online

It is even more important that businesses provide a positive, secure and great experience when selling online


The way we shop has changed over the past 12 months. The pandemic forced businesses across the world to close their doors, and many found a lifeline through selling online, some even for the first time.

Similarly, many consumers have begun to embrace online shopping for their everyday purchases. In fact, in Ireland, Visa saw an almost 40 per cent increase in ecommerce transactions in December 2020 compared with December 2019.

So, it has become even more important that businesses in Ireland provide a positive, secure and great experience when selling online and serving their customers via digital channels.

Introduction to SCA

A new European regulation introduced in Ireland on January 1st is being gradually implemented until the deadline on July 1st. Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is part of a broader payments regulation known as PSD2. It aims to reduce fraud by adding another layer of security to online payments to ensure the person making a payment is the authorised cardholder and not a fraudster.

The industry has steadily gotten ready for SCA over the past couple of years and businesses across Ireland are being encouraged to take the necessary steps to prepare for that July deadline. If your business is not ready, it could become harder for your customers to pay at online checkouts.

SCA encourages the use of two factor authentication to ensure that the authorised cardholder is the same person making the payment. Many of your customers may have already noticed some changes to their checkout experience by needing to provide additional verification of their identity.

When SCA is in place, the cardholder will be asked for two pieces of information, including something they know, e.g. a password; something they have, such as a phone or card reader; or something relating to who they are, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition. If they cannot be identified, the payment could be declined.

SCA encourages the use of two factor authentication

The good news is that business owners have the power to prevent this from happening by installing a piece of technology to their online checkout. We’re here to tell you how.

Simple steps to get ready for SCA

To be ready for the regulation, businesses can use a piece of technology called 3D Secure (3DS). It scans payments as they come through to determine if they seem likely to be fraudulent and enables banks to verify the authenticity of the customer by asking them for more proof of their identity.

At Visa, we believe the best way to make sure your customers’ payments support the regulation is to add the latest version of this technology: EMV 3D Secure. This version gives banks more information on a payment and is also more suited for use on mobile phones and other smart devices.

Contact your business bank or payment gateway

Implementing the right technology is straightforward. The company that enables your website to take payments or runs the checkout section of your website – it could be your business bank or a payment gateway – should be able to “switch on” this technology on request. But this will not happen automatically; if you want to use the latest 3DS, you must ask the provider.

Identify any exemptions with your bank

Some ecommerce transactions are beyond the scope of the regulation, and others that may be exempt. One exemption, for example, is that additional checks are not always required for “low value” payments. If many of the products and services you sell are less than €30, it is worth mentioning this to your bank or gateway.

Challenge or opportunity

More than three-quarters of Ireland’s largest ecommerce businesses have already implemented the technology required to support SCA and Visa is urging small businesses not to get left behind. Whether you are a local restaurant operating an online click & collect service, an online retailer or indeed any independent business that uses online payments; SCA will apply to you.

With the right preparation, you can help to reduce fraud while ensuring your hard-earned customers checkout quickly and easily.

For more on SCA, check out our blog on