On recent e-Transfer issues

May 19, 2021
Dustin Walper
May 19, 2021
Dustin Walper
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If you’re a frequent Newton user, you’ve probably noticed a spate of recent issues related to e-transfers on our platform. I’d like to address those issues and talk about what’s going on behind the scenes to correct them.

Payment Processor Issues

You may have noticed that other platforms are also experiencing issues with e-transfers, and this is because there are basically two companies serving almost all of the crypto industry in Canada. One of those companies hasn’t been accepting new customers since ~2018 (before we launched), so we’re entirely reliant on a single vendor for a critical part of our service.

I spoke to the CEO of our payments vendor yesterday, and they told us in no uncertain terms that they’re aware of the issues, they’ve bulked up their engineering team to address them, and they’ve paused any work that doesn’t involve shoring up the deficiencies in their API, something we rely on to initiate e-Transfer Requests and check on the status of those requests. We’ve been told that vastly improved reliability should be just around the corner.

Historically, however, their infrastructure has experienced a wide variety of issues, making it difficult for us to simply patch around problems in their API.

What we’re doing

We’re working closely with our payment processor to avoid knocking them over when we experience large demand spikes, usually when prices are moving a ton (like today). However, there’s only so much we can realistically do on our side - it’s clear that they need to work faster to fix these repeated problems.

Even so, we now have a senior engineer dedicated just to improving the robustness of e-Transfer support and nothing else, so we expect rapid progress on things we have control over. Even if we have third-party issues, we’ll do more to handle them gracefully and hopefully - in many cases - to minimize the impact on customer experience.

Although most banks and payment processors still refuse to touch crypto at all, we are continuing to look for ways to add redundancy around payments - our ideal situation would be to split payments between 2-3 different vendors, and to quickly re-route payments in case one of them experiences an outage. We’re optimistic about this possibility in 2021, but we’re very much constrained by the maddening risk-averseness of large Canadian banks - they’re ultimately the ones setting the standards that everyone else must follow.

Finally, we’re working on doubling the size of our support team to handle the mass of support tickets coming our way, adding better status information on e-transfers in-app, communicating more robustly with our customers when there are outages, and building better process for proactively spotting “orphaned” e-transfers and crediting them to accounts in a timely manner.

I appreciate this may be cold comfort for some still waiting to have their e-transfers credited today, and for that I’m really sorry. We’ll be crediting those as quickly as we can once our partner’s API is operating normally.

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Dustin Walper

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