July 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

Payment processor Authorize.Net works to get back online after holiday fire

The payment processor for hundreds of thousands of merchants was out of commission for 12 hours at the start of the Fourth of July weekend because of a fire in its Seattle office building, parent CyberSource says.

Authorize.Net, which is the payment processor for more than 240,000 merchants including many e-retailers, was out of commission for 12 hours at the start of the Fourth of July weekend because of a fire in its Seattle office building, parent company CyberSource Corp. says.

“Authorize.Net was completely out after it was forced offline by a fire in its building’s electric supply area,” a CyberSource spokesman says. Although Authorize.Net’s own technology was not harmed, the fire prevented the company from processing payments or communicating with its customers via phone or e-mail, he says, adding that Authorize.Net accessed the social network web site Twitter from mobile devices to communicate with customers.

Bill Hoidas, product development manager at Barrington, IL-based Matrix Payment Systems, which provides payment processing services to several thousand merchants that use Authorize.Net as an Internet payment gateway, says the outage-from 11:10 p.m. on July 2 to 11:40 a.m. on July 3, Pacific Time, according to CyberSource-occurred at a relatively slow time when most retailers were probably not experiencing peak customer activity. He adds that Authorize.Net typically offers reliable service.

Still, Authorize.Net should have provided a back-up processing system, Hoidas says.

Although Authorize.Net operates back-up technology, at the time of the fire it was in the final stages of transitioning to a new back-up center and experienced unexpected transition problems, resulting in an outage, the CyberSource spokesman says.

Authorize.Net was back online by mid-day on July 3, though its web site was continuing to experience slow page loads on July 6 as the company continued to work to get things back to normal. That may have caused slow shopping carts for Authorize.Net merchants, Hoidas says.

Since getting back online on July 3, Authorize.Net continued to experience some delays in transaction processing but did not experience any additional outages as it returned to full operating capability, CyberSource says.

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