If you place a new order on the Yoctopuce online store, you'll notice that the order completion wizard has changed slightly and that the credit card payment interface is completely different.
Don't panic, this is normal. Yoctopuce has changed its credit card acceptance service provider. And this week, we wanted to tell you why.
In Switzerland, when you have an online store that accepts credit cards as a means of payment, it's strongly recommended that you use specialized companies for the interface that handles credit card number input. If you decide to ignore this, the regulatory constraints that apply will quickly bring you back in the fold. The advantage is that the credit card data entered by your customers does not pass through your servers, making you a less attractive target for those tempted to try and steal it.
How it all began...
In 2011, when Yoctopuce was first launched, we decided to use the Payment Service Providing (PSP) platform offered by our bank, PostFinance, a subsidiary of Swiss Post, the national postal service. And it has to be said that, at the time, the implementation of their interface on our web site went off without a hitch. We followed the instructions and it worked. We don't claim that it was an ideal solution: there were a few strange behaviors, such as transactions mysteriously refused at the time, only to be accepted on the sly a few hours later. We were never able to get a clear explanation of this from PostFinance, and customers sometimes placed duplicate orders because of this bug. Fortunately, our order preparation teams take the trouble to contact customers when they notice two suspiciously identical orders. But, in good times and bad, we've been able to use PSP for over a decade without having too much to complain about.
However, at the beginning of 2023, PostFinance announced to its customers that it would be discontinuing PSP at the end of the year, and replacing it with its brand-new solution, Checkout Flex. A technical sales representative even came to see us to encourage us to migrate to the new platform and help us set up an account on it. Admittedly, Checkout Flex 's user interface is much more engaging than the old one, which looks a little dated. We asked if there was a PHP library to integrate the credit card payment system into our web site, the representative said yes, we thanked him, and he left.
In March 2023, we decided to start working on the migration from PSP to Checkout Flex. The situation quickly turned dramatic. We immediately realized that the pretty documentation offered by PostFinance was just window-dressing, containing almost no practical information, and that there was no documentation on how to use the famous php library. We also noticed that only the first page and the index of the general documentation were available in three Swiss national languages; everything else was in English. We didn't mind, but why pretend to have translated documentation? It smacked of shoddy workmanship. Naturally, we contacted PostFinance support to find out if there were any other documents available, or even practical programming examples. After a few attempts to muddy the waters, PostFinance support told us they would pass on our questions to their "specialist". The final answer was "no, there is no other documentation". It was then that we realized that the platform so proudly presented by Postfinance as its own was merely a rebranded version of a product sold by Wallee, a third-party company.
Left: PostFinance documentation, right: Wallee documentation
Despite the absence of any documentation worthy of the name and an unnecessarily complicated programming interface, we finally managed to make a proof of concept work, but its imperfections prompted us to address even more specific questions to PostFinance's technical support. We suspect that, unable to answer any of them, PostFinance support simply passed on our questions to Wallee support and returned the answer to us. In addition to the week-long round-trip delays, we thought we detected a certain amount of bad faith in the answers we received, which is perhaps not surprising given that Wallee was perhaps less motivated to invest time to support issues for someone else's customers.
Faced with the prospect of finding ourselves without a functioning payment system at the end of the year, we started canvassing other companies offering credit card acceptance service in Switzerland. And we found Datatrans. We then decided on a small internal competition. To develop the two solutions PostFinance and Datatrans in parallel, and to keep the first which would lead to a usable solution. And it was Datatrans who won hands down, thanks to its correct documentation and responsive support. We don't claim that Datatrans is a panacea - we had to compromise and jump through several hoops - but at least it works and is usable.
From now on, Datatrans is the interface for credit card and PayPal payments on our online store. You'll notice that the order completion wizard is now displayed full-page. This is because, like all modern payment interfaces, Datatrans code refuses to run in an IFRAME. We don't really like this, as we find that seeing a web page jump from one site to another at the moment of payment doesn't inspire much confidence. But apparently, nowadays, everyone does it this way, so we imagine it's less shocking than it was 12 years ago.
Long story short, the Yoctopuce online store's payment system has changed, we've tested it and we think it works reasonably well. But if you have any doubts, don't hesitate to send an email to Yoctopuce support, which will get back to you promptly. If you work for PostFinance and think we're being a bit unfair, don't hesitate to contact us - we'll be happy to show you the edifying emails we've exchanged with PostFinance support.