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When to step-up your Google Pay transactions as a PSP

Google Developers
Published: November 28, 2022

Posted by Dominik Mengelt, Developer Relations Engineer, Google Pay and Nick Alteen, Technical Writer, Engineering, Wallet

What is step-up authentication?

When processing payments, step-up authentication (or simply “step-up”) is the practice of requiring additional authentication measures based on user activity and certain risk signals. For example, redirecting the user to 3D Secure to authenticate a transaction. This can help to reduce potential fraud and chargebacks. The following graphic shows the high-level flow of a transaction to determine what’s to be done if step-up is needed.

graphic showing the high-level flow of a transaction
Figure 1: Trigger your Risk Engine before sending the transaction to authorization if step-up is needed

It depends! When making a transaction, the Google Pay API response will return one of the following:

You can use the allowedAuthMethods parameter to indicate which authentication methods you want to support for Google Pay transactions:

“allowedAuthMethods”: [
    “CRYPTOGRAM_3DS”,
    “PAN_ONLY”
]

In this case, you’re asking Google Pay to display the payment sheet for both types. For example, if the user selects a PAN_ONLY card (a card not tokenized, not enabled for contactless) from the payment sheet during checkout, step-up is needed. Let’s have a look at two concrete scenarios:

In the first scenario, the Google Pay sheet shows a card previously added to Google Wallet. The card art and name of the user’s issuing bank are displayed. If the user selects this card during the checkout process, no step-up is required because it would fall under the CRYPTOGRAM_3DS authentication method.

On the other hand, the sheet in the second scenario shows a generic card network icon. This indicates a PAN_ONLY authentication method and therefore needs step-up.

PAN_ONLY vs. CRYPTOGRAM_3DS

Whether or not you decide to accept both forms of payments is your decision. For CRYPTOGRAM_3DS, the Google Pay API additionally returns a cryptogram and, depending on the network, an eciIndicator. Make sure to use those properties when continuing with authorization.

PAN_ONLY

This authentication method is associated with payment cards from a user’s Google Account. Returned payment data includes the PAN with the expiration month and year.

CRYPTOGRAM_3DS

This authentication method is associated with cards stored as Android device tokens provided by the issuers. Returned payment data includes a cryptogram generated on the device.

When should you step-up Google Pay transactions?

When calling the loadPaymentData method, the Google Pay API will return an encrypted payment token (paymentData.paymentMethodData.tokenizationData.token). After decryption, the paymentMethodDetails object contains a property, assuranceDetails, which has the following format:

“assuranceDetails”: {
    “cardHolderAuthenticated”: true,
    “accountVerified”: true
}

Depending on the values of cardHolderAuthenticated and accountVerified, step-up authentication may be required. The following table indicates the possible scenarios and when Google recommends step-up authentication for a transaction:

cardHolderAuthenticated

accountVerified

Step-up needed

true

true

No

false

true

Yes

Step-up can be skipped only when both cardHolderAuthenticated and accountVerified return true.

Next steps

If you are not using assuranceDetails yet, consider doing so now and make sure to step-uptransactions if needed. Also, make sure to check out our guide on Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) if you are processing payments within the European Economic Area (EEA). Follow @GooglePayDevs on Twitter for future updates. If you have questions, mention @GooglePayDevs and include #AskGooglePayDevs in your tweets.

Source: developers.googleblog.com