New Year’s day offs in payment services: what happens while the whole country is on vacation?

New Year’s day offs are the traditional time of a big weekends for most of Ukrainians. A recent study by Mastercard called Driving Home For Christmas 2019 tells us about 16 million Ukrainians will go home for the winter holidays and spend 4349 UAH (average) for gifts for their families. Some spend this time with their family, while others go on vacation (21% of requested is good for a «poor European country», am I right?). Almost 70% will travel by car or a bus, spending approximately 7273 UAH (such a high figure because of 19% of the air segment).

What unites all these facts and numbers? The fact the New Year holidays is a time of spending for all of us. And every year more and more of these spending is made cashless. So, this is a time of rest if for most Ukrainians, but it’s one of the most heavily loaded periods of the year for the financial services sector. What happens during this?

Cash. First of all, banks calculate how much cash will be withdrawn by customers on holidays and reinforce their ATM network with cash. Banks have forecasts for peak financial consumption during the holidays, and therefore everyone is preparing for this with maximum of their resources.

Customer support. It’s quite difficult to organize the work of support in the New Year period: the effectiveness of this work usually decreases, and the load naturally grows. This is especially true for banks and online services that work with financial transactions. Each financial institution has its own procedure and requirements, but one fact unites everyone — it won’t work out just to go on vacation and forget about all. Most often, banks and non-bank institutions have a special crew in support for this days. The conditions of this depend on company policy: for example, banks, due to security requirements, can only provide support from the office. Most often, employees of such «holiday support team» receive double salaries or additional bonuses in compensation for the need to celebrate the New Year at their workplace.

Bank cards payments. Here everything goes as usual, apart from the support actions, which I described above. However, the payment infrastructure of banks is built in advance to withstand the peak load in terms of speed and quantity of transaction processing. Sources of information is the general practice and / or bitter experience: your own or competitor’s. For example, in the «basic» period, the load on the infrastructure should be about 20% of its capabilities — in order, for example, to withstand Black Friday or New Year’s boom with the purchase of products, gifts, money transfers, etc.

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank