PagoPA: cashback, much more than it seems

PagoPA: cashback, much more than it seems
The CEO of PagoPA SpA, Giuseppe Virgone, has published a post of great significance on what these months have been for his group and for the ambitious project developed in the service of the Cashless Italia Plan. A post steeped in vision and sincerity, useful to take stock of what has not worked before projecting everything on the year that is about to begin.

An ambitious project

Second Virgone, first of all, the state cashback should be read more for what it represents than for what it is: a springboard for a platform that, in perspective, will radically improve the relationship between citizens and the Public Administration. A central hub, in short, to rejuvenate old habits and to put in the hands of thousands of people the channel of access to information, payments and interactions with the PA.

State cashback is therefore certainly a useful way to fight tax evasion and encourage the adoption of digital payment tools, but this last piece is not an end: it is a means. The true value of everything lies in that "Centro Stella" at the base of the digital architecture that allows the exchange of essential information between banking systems and citizens who intend to benefit from the services provided by the PA via the IO app:

In the future, in fact, the Centro Stella will be able to rely on other services that the State will want to provide by linking them to the use of electronic money. In this way, without changing their shopping experience, citizens will be able to access services or contributions in a digital and personalized way, with unprecedented speed and precision for the Public Administration. The infrastructure on which Cashback is based today, therefore, has an innovation potential that goes far beyond this project itself and translates a strategic and system vision that contributes to the development of new digital services for the benefit of the whole country.

There is a new world beyond cashback, in short: the IO app will be its navel, the current operations are its viaticum, but the ambition is to ignite the spark of digitalization to translate the Italy from the pre-pandemic past to a future built on new tools, new prerogatives and a new citizen-PA relationship.

What went wrong

The youth problems of the app yes they developed on 7, 8 and 9 December, when various types of malfunctions occurred on the flat several times form. Immediate arrows came from users, to whom it was not immediately clear how what was happening was a completely anomalous situation.

These are the numbers of those hours:

the downloads of the IO app, which on the evening of Monday 7 December were 6.6 million, after less than 24 hours touched the threshold of 7.6 million, with an increase of approximately one million; requests for access to the "Wallet" section of the IO app (to activate Cashback or check the payment methods loaded) have reached peaks of over 14,000 transactions per second with over 2.3 million active users in the app; an average of 2,700 accesses per second was detected (for a total of 233,280,000 operations that weighed on the backend of the IO app). The platform, based on Microsoft Azure, has experienced its worst problems due to what was discovered on 9 December, the day when the situation began to be brought under control:

we can identify the "root cause" for the disruptions of December 7, ascertaining that the calls to the Notification Hub, made using the Microsoft Javascript SDK, do not use keep-alive. A high number of push notifications to be sent therefore causes the queuing of numerous calls to the Notification Hub; these calls exhaust the source ports, periodically congesting all the outgoing requests made by the Function (even those that implement the other functions, not necessarily related to pushes). The problem - which arose in conjunction with an unprecedented number of active users - is the cause of the disservice already mitigated on 8 December by acting exclusively on the infrastructure. The definitive solution consisted in integrating the keep-alive for calls to the Notification Hub.

Providing explanations is an important step to give the technicians what they wanted and to make them understand how much the situation has experienced moments of great excitement as a result of aspects that cannot be circumvented (such as the checks imposed by the PSD2) and whose fragility made the first hours of cashback complex.

The numbers, today

According to the data Updated as of yesterday, about 5.7 million citizens are registered on the service (both from the IO app and from other channels); the payment instruments activated are 9.6 million, while the transactions already processed are 49.6 million. In short: each user recorded an average of 8.7 transactions, a figure destined to suddenly rise above the threshold of 10 - the minimum wage in order to obtain the first cashback.

Source: Medium
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