Managing Soft Decline

With the DSP2 application, issuers can refuse the transaction if 3D Secure authentication has not been performed. This behavior is called “Soft Decline”.

Since October 2020, transactions without 3DS authentication are progressively refused. After a first phase for transactions above €2,000, the threshold was lowered to €1,000 in January 2021, then to €500 mid-February.

This threshold will continue to decrease until April 2021, when all transactions will be carried out with cardholder authentication.

This mechanism directly impacts merchants using selective 3D Secure to disable 3DS authentication.

To reduce the number of rejected payments, when the issuer refuses a “Soft Decline” transaction, the payment gateway automatically makes a new payment attempt, but this time with 3D Secure authentication, and without the buyer having to re-enter their card data. It is therefore transparent for the buyer.

There will not be a new attempt with 3DS authentication following a “Soft Decline” refusal if the payment is a payment in installments.

Operating principle

  1. The merchant website initiates a transaction in euro by disabling the 3D Secure authentication via the vads_threeds_mpi field.
  2. The buyer enters their card data on the payment page.
  3. The payment gateway performs an authorization request.
  4. The card issuer refuses the transaction for “Soft Decline” reasons (e.g. return code 81 for CB).
  5. A refused transaction is created. The merchant website is not notified about this transaction.
  6. The payment gateway automatically initiates a new payment, with 3D Secure authentication, whose sequence number (vads_sequence_number) is set to 2.
  7. The buyer is prompted to perform 3D Secure authentication, without having to re-enter their card data.
  8. After 3D Secure authentication, the gateway performs a new authorization request.
  9. At the end of the payment, the transaction is created and the merchant website is notified of the payment result.

Operation in case of additional payment attempts

If you have configured a number of additional attempts that is greater than 0 in your Expert Back Office and you have enabled notification upon each attempt, the notification principle applies as follows:

Example with one additional payment attempt:

In step 8, if the payment is refused, the merchant website is notified of the refusal. The sequence number is set to 2.

The payment gateway invites the buyer to make a new attempt.

If the payment is refused, for example, for insufficient balance this time, the merchant website is notified of the payment result. The sequence number (vads_sequence_number) present in the notification is set to 3. The payment is complete.

Which networks are involved?

By definition, all acquirers who make acquisitions in euros within the area of application of DPS2 are concerned.

Currently, the payment gateway only manages the “Soft Decline” within the CB network.

The networks below will be implemented shortly:
  • AMEXGLOBAL (American Express)
  • GATECONEX (Elavon Europe)
  • GICC (Concardis acquirers, Six payments, VR Pay)

How to test the “Soft Decline”?

To simulate a “Soft Decline” refusal in TEST mode, you can use the card number below:
Card number Test card checked
4970119000005005 Payment accepted with 3D Secure authentication after a “Soft Decline”.