How to navigate a migration to a modern payment platform

By : Andy Brown

November 01, 2018 01:00 PM

The benefits of moving from an outdated and inflexible legacy transaction switch to a modern, customizable system are clear, particularly in the current era of rapid change and rising competition in payments.


One barrier that prevents many businesses from making this transition is the perceived difficulty of migrating from one platform to another. While this is an understandable concern, past migrations have shown it's possible to complete this task in a reasonable timeframe with minimal impact on services.


Success depends on being aware of the challenges involved and implementing proactive measures to mitigate them.


Common questions


When the time comes to migrate from a legacy payment switch to a modern alternative, financial institutions will be asking some key questions about how the process will work and what risks it could present for the business.


While the exact questions will vary between organizations, depending on their unique demands and objectives, they could include:

  • How long will the migration take?
  • Is there a risk to frontline services?
  • Has this migration strategy been used successfully by other businesses in the past?
  • Is there a 'backout' option if something goes wrong?
  • Is the migration plan flexible enough to reflect the company's unique needs?


A carefully planned and structured approach to migration will help provide the answers to these questions before the process begins.


Finding the right approach


Every business is unique, so individual firms will need to find the right migration strategy and partner to meet their specific requirements before going ahead.


One method that can prove highly effective and reduce risk for many organizations is to approach the transition in stages. The sequence could look something like this:

  1. Establish the new transaction switch, with links to the legacy platform and the core banking system.
  2. Migrate card scheme interfaces.
  3. Transfer authorization processing.
  4. Move connections to ATM and point of sale terminals, starting slowly to ensure stability.
  5. Shut down the legacy system.


Taking a gradual approach provides the reassurance of being able to 'back out' of any phase and reconsider strategy, should any problems occur.


Testing is vital at each stage, to confirm one step has been completed successfully before moving on to the next. This is where the expertise of an experienced partner – one who has been there and done it before – can be highly valuable.


It can also prove beneficial to take a 'legacy wrapping' approach, whereby existing payment systems are enclosed in a technology wrapper and insulated from future changes, allowing them to continue to deliver value without demanding too much ongoing investment. With this in place, the new platform can gradually begin to take over existing functions and deliver new services.


Another valuable quality worth prioritizing in any migration project is flexibility. Flexible plans and sequences help to ensure individual firms can reach their objectives and gain maximum value from the process.


Some businesses will want to complete the transition as quickly and efficiently as possible, while others will be focused on enabling new services or functions within their payment workflow. Every organization migrating to a new transaction processing platform should feel confident the project has been carefully designed to meet their own requirements.


Of course, the actual process of migration is not the only challenge involved in adopting a new transaction switch. Training staff and developing new operational processes are among the other key factors to consider.


But with so much value to be gained from replacing legacy technology with systems designed specifically for the modern payments business, the time and investment required to overcome these challenges will yield clear and compelling results.


To discover additional payments insights, ideas and strategies that make your job easier, visit our new payments portal at

Andy Brown

Marketing Director, Payments

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Andy has nearly 30 years experience in e-payment systems from the delivery and support of systems in the Far East and Europe and in the product management and marketing perspective. Based in the UK, Andy is responsible for marketing NCR payment solutions.