Soft Declines

December 13, 2022

Soft Declines

A soft decline occurs when a customer’s issuing bank is willing to approve a transaction but not in its current state. Of all declines, roughly 85% can be deemed as “soft declines.”

What Causes Soft Declines?

Soft declines can be attributed to numerous reasons, such as:

  • Insufficient funds in the Customer’s account
  • The payment processor declines the transaction
  • The card’s activity limit has been reached
  • The billing address does not match the IP address of the device being used to make the purchase
  • The card is being used abroad, away from its issuing country

With soft declines, transaction failure is only temporary. This means that Customers can retry the transaction and hope for authorisation.

This does pose a problem for Merchants, however, as Customers may abandon the transaction and look elsewhere due to the hassle of having to retry the payment.

How to Prevent a Soft Decline

  • Use EMV 3-D Secure. With smartphones and tablets becoming an integral part of our lives, an integrated EMV 3-D Secure process for mobile payment processing is essential. Merchants can integrate an EMV 3-D Secure process into their apps, making the customers’ checkout experience fast and efficient.
  • Ensure you are adhering to the Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) guidelines. SCA must be used whenever there is a Cardholder Initiated Transaction (CIT) occurring. SCA is extremely beneficial for all parties involved, including merchants, by protecting them against the threat of payment fraud. However, Mail order/Telephone order (MOTO) transactions are exempt from SCA as they do not have the cardholder present at the point of transaction.


To learn more about how Cardstream can help you maximise your payments, click here for more information.

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