Perhaps the single factor that most differentiates current day payments environments from the legacy models of the 1980s and 90s is that banks and payment processors no longer exert airtight control over the end-to-end process.
On the surface, saying that banks and processors have less control over the process sounds like a negative. In many ways, however, it’s a healthy development. The overall payments system benefits from the fresh thinking and creative energy brought into the mix by non-bank FinTech players.
The price of this innovation is a constantly changing set of endpoints – in the form of new apps and utilities plugging into the payments backbone, and the never-ending updates to those solutions in pursuit of the ultimate user experience. This highlights the importance of two capabilities of a next generation payments system – automated testing and performance (a.k.a stress) testing.
Running In The Wild
More endpoints mean more ways for consumers to interact with the underlying payments systems – often in ways that designers never contemplated. A payment solution that functions properly in clean, controlled lab conditions may reveal an entirely new host of challenges once deployed.
Providers have a strong incentive to ensure these tools perform smoothly “in the wild” – even if they did not design the app. End users often attribute an app’s shortcomings to the systems that support it – especially if friends report using it without issues through another financial institution, for instance.
The explosion of financial app culture – not to mention ever-changing models of point of sale terminals, mobile wallets, tools like remote deposit, etc. – leads to a manifold increase in test case scenarios. Left to the manual process of scenario identification and test case development, we have found that effective coverage is typically lower than most firms realize – often as low as 20 percent. This creates remarkable exposure to production issues – whether full outages or substandard performance – and the resulting customer dissatisfaction that is inevitable.
In Comes The Next Gen Solutions
Using next gen solutions, testing can be virtualized. The value of this ability can be seen when testing ATMs. Current generation products require testers to physically visit the various models of ATMs that require testing. With virtualized testing, this manual process is removed and ATMs can be tested more efficiently and effectively. Additionally, this capability enables significantly greater scenario coverage and greater confidence in product performance.
The same is true with the automated and continuous testing capabilities next gen solutions are bringing to payment system testing at leading organizations. With a bit of front work, the manual effort of setting up and running tests can be eliminated. Systems can be established to identify when a new payments function, module or component has been introduced and automatically initiate the necessary testing.
In the troubleshooting process, next gen testing systems allow teams to pause testing when an issue is identified, make necessary adjustments, and resume the test from that point – a massive time savings from the legacy approach of returning to the starting line each time.
Paragon’s white paper, “7 Key Capabilities of Next Generation Payments Testing Solutions,” provides more detail on these and other attributes that can equip payments software testing teams to meet the demands of today’s payments environment.