The Edge Blog

Crash Your Payments System Before Your Customers Do

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It seems to fit in nicely with similar sage business advice: Practice creative disruption. Cannibalize your own products. Engage in coopetition.  Yet somehow this one sounds a bit scarier: Crash your own payments system.

Once you step back to consider the alternatives, it’s a perfectly rational approach. If there are vulnerabilities to your firm’s payments offerings, it’s far better to discover them yourself and to seize control of the process than it is to be blindsided by in-market outages and/or discrepancies. You don’t want to find your company playing catch-up while simultaneously managing a public relations crisis.

Our current era of heightened customer expectations has dramatically raised the stakes when it comes to availability. Consumers expect to be able to pay anywhere, anytime, using any device. If an ATM is out of service, they may be able to walk across the street to use another machine, but they may also develop a new behavior that leaves your firm’s offering out of the equation.  In worse cases, they may erode your brand value using social media. 

Today, if your payment offering fails to perform as advertised, the consequences stretch beyond current customers impacting large segments of the population who might have been considering products and services.  Meanwhile, the payments landscape continually grows more complex and more challenging to support. As new regulations emerge, technology advances to meet the appetite consumers have for anything that adds convenience and efficiency to their lives. 

Better To Fix It Before the Stakes Get Higher

Any seasoned IT professional will confirm that the earlier a problem can be identified, the cheaper it will be to fix.  On the other end of the spectrum, if errors are unearthed once a product is in production, these are the most expensive fixes. These “economics” are driving more and more organizations to pursue the  “nirvana state” of continuous end-to-end testing, in which developers run tests while coding.

The pursuit of this golden mean is non-trivial in the impact it can have.  We are aware of in-market defects that eluded root cause identification for several months of manual forensics that, upon implementation of automated testing software, were isolated within 36 hours. When those defects are not found, the “cost” can manifest across several categories.  Several cases where errors emerged after software was in production involves cash losses in excess of $1 million. Of course, the cost of investigation and remediation typically exceed the cash loss, and we haven’t even begun to quantify the resulting reputational damage.

There Are No Shortcuts – But There Are Accelerators

Unfortunately, the fix isn’t as simple as writing a check for state-of-the-art testing software. As Bill Gates once postulated, automation applied to an efficient business operation will magnify the efficiency. Conversely, however, he added that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. Automated testing cannot be implemented with the flip of a switch; manual testing will need to continue during the transition period while a new framework is put in place. Automated testing frameworks, or test harnesses, are key to implementing testing automation, fulfilling the needs for both a test execution engine and test script repository.  All this effort, however, is worth it.  The payback is significant as nearly all firms that have made the upgrade will attest.

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