PAYMENTS – BASIC TECHNICAL CONCEPTS BY Rabinarayan Sabata
An Analyst’s basic skill is Analysis. The term ‘Analyst’ may refer to Payment Analyst, Business Analyst, Technical Analyst and so on. An Analyst is the one who performs analysis of a given topic in his domain. To become a Payment Analyst, firstly, in-depth knowledge on payments is required. In addition, basic idea on certain tools/skills would be required which is an added feather in shaping the career path.
Thanks to the Internet, we do not have to write payment messages and transfer it manually. All this is done in a secured, automated, and faster way. In order to process payments, our payment engine may have to depend on various other applications to get account information, balance details, exchange rate information, Clearing And Settlement system, interaction with Swift network, to share the payment details to other downstream for reconciliation and so on. It is always a good idea to know how our payment engine interacts with other peripheral applications. This will help in analyzing the issue in an effective manner and make quicker decisions in a production environment. (It is not mandatory to know the technical aspects for non-technical person. Just the names and concept would help.)
Below are a few of those Technical Concepts/Technical Jargons: –
Messaging Queue (MQ): As the name suggests (queue), a line or sequence of messages awaiting their turn to be attended or proceed. Let’s say Application A wants to send messages to Application B. In this case, it can put the messages sequentially in a queue and Application B can retrieve the information from Queue in the same order as it was placed. (Example: conveyor belt used in airport.).
If the Application wants to send three MT103 message (Message-1, Message-2, Message-3), it is placed in the queue in the sequence Message-1, followed by Message-2, and then Message-3. Note that this will get received at the other end in the same order, such as Message-1, Message-2 and followed by Message-3. It is not possible that before Message-1 is received, Message-3 will arrive. It always follows a sequential manner. One of the biggest advantages of queue is that, the messages will never be lost even if Application B is down or not functioning. As soon as Application B is Up and running, it will start consuming the messages. Till then the messages would be there in Queue.
FTP: Some of the Payment Applications use file FTP (File transfer Protocol) (or Secure FTP) to transfer files between computers over the internet.
Webservice\API: Generally, we use Graphical User Interface (GUI) to interact with an Application. Have you ever thought, how an application communicates or transfers message with another application on real time basis? Here comes one of the trending approaches which is called, ‘Application Programming Interface’ (API). Nowadays, most of the applications use this technique to communicate with others on real time basis. Let’s take an example: Consider our payment engine needs to process one payment, but it does not handle Account module (i.e. storing Account details and their balance information). So, it depends on other application to get the account related information. This may happen in below sequence: 1. Get the Account details and its balance. 2. Put a Cash Block to avoid any other transaction gets processed while processing this transaction. 3. Update the account balance and close the Cash Block.
All these steps need to be performed on a real time basis, failing which we will not be able to achieve our goal. To achieve the same, application uses API (generally REST API) for interaction with the other application which serves accounting information. We use this technique to communicate with RTGS type system (based on requirement) for real time solution.
Having basic idea on the above will help in analyzing the issue in production environment in various ways. For example, if we get to know that API is not working as expected, then we can avoid putting unnecessary efforts to analyze impact on the messages which are being transferred over MQ. Instead, we can put our primary focus on API related messages and save our crucial time.
Along with the above knowledge for any data related analysis, below skills/tools will help and make life easy.
Microsoft Excel: Excel is the most widely used Data Analytics software in the world. Even though you are expert in Python, R or any other technical skills but you will still use excel in your work. It becomes a crucial tool when the analytics team interacts with Business team to show or explain their data.
Basic knowledge on this tool will help you in your career. For example, filtering and formatting the data, comparing few data columns, having knowledge on few conditional statements and formulas( if-else, VLOOKUP ), few mathematical functions (sum, average) pivot table, chart, loading data from text or csv files etc.
VBA Macro: This is one tool if learnt well, will always keep you one step ahead. (I have created my first automation task by using this tool in IT career😊.) VBA Macros use the Visual Basic Application in Excel to write small programs to automate and speed up manual task. In the corporate world, preparing Excel reports is a common thing. By having this tool knowledge, you can work on large amount of data and complex reports in seconds.
CSV file: A csv is a comma-separated file which allows data to be saved in tabular format. It would look like a spreadsheet but with a .csv version. CSV files can be used with any spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft excel, google spreadsheets etc. They differ from other spreadsheet file types because you can only have a single sheet in a file, they cannot save cell, column, or row. Also, you cannot not save formulas in this format. You should know how to read a csv file if you are opening in a flat file format. For example: A csv file contains as below. It tells it has 4 records and each record has 3 columns (separated by semicolon). Here we should not be surprised by looking at row four and assume it has only two columns (Actually it has same 3 columns with blank or No value for last column).
|Student Id; Student Name; Mark |
1; Raju; 80
Beyond Compare: This tool will help you to compare files, comparing folders containing multiple files. While analyzing issue in production environment you may need to compare multiple files to figure out the incorrect\faulty record. If you analyze huge files manually then would become a tedious task and high chances of having human error. In that case you can make use of this tool (or tool like it, based on availability at your organization).
SQL: This is used for accessing, manipulating, and communicating with the database. Even though this is not mandatory to learn for a non-technical employee, however if you have this additional skill it will provide you many advantages to your career. You will become more comfortable while analyzing or fetching data from backend. Basic SQL commands like Select, where condition, few inbuilt functions, joining multiple tables, joining multiple result set etc. would be enough for a non-technical employee.
October 26, 2021 at 8:10 am
Very informative data and especially useful for functional experts.