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A Guide to ATM Testing

Consumers continue to depend on ATMs to access their accounts and collect cash, as well as take advantage of the growing range of products and services that can be delivered via the ATM channel.

ATM testing has historically been an inefficient, time-consuming and costly process, requiring local access to expensive hardware sitting in localized lab facilities.

In this guide, we explore a number of issues and challenges associated with the continued reliance on manual ATM testing and provide information and advice on how to use virtualization technology to automate and streamline the ATM testing process.


Improving the ATM Experience Through Enhanced Testing Capabilities

In recent years we’ve seen a lot of news articles and publications discussing how the “end of the road” is coming for both cash and the ATM channel. 

Despite this negative sentiment, the ATM remains a vital delivery channel for a wide range of financial products and services - and that list of offerings is only growing even as financial services organizations aim to move towards a contactless experience for consumers.

In fact, according to this article published by CIO, the ATM channel will play an increasingly important role in creating a highly-rewarding and satisfying digital experience for the modern day consumer.

In order for ATMs to stay relevant and competitive, organizations need to continually innovate. After all, the customer experience is the main competitive differentiator in today’s market. 

With consumers becoming more sophisticated and competition for business becoming more fierce, it’s increasingly important that every single ATM transaction is executed perfectly every time.

To achieve that objective, ATM deployers must also continue to improve their ATM testing capabilities. 

A solid testing strategy enables fleet owners to make continuous improvements to their ATM estate, enhancing the customer experience and remaining competitive, all while improving operational efficiency, reducing costs and speeding time to market for new products and services.

With those goals in mind, it’s crucial that financial services organizations move away from the traditionally slow, costly, and potentially error-prone manual testing processes of the past, and instead focus on the digital transformation of ATM testing technologies with innovations such as virtualization, automation, and APIs.

With that in mind, we have created this guide to answer some of the top questions today’s financial services industry has in regards to ATM testing. We hope this information can help you introduce new processes that ensure your company remains compliant, competitive and profitable.

Chapter 2

What is The Importance of ATM testing?

ATM testing has always been an essential part of any ATM fleet owner’s core business process. 

This is important, because even after 50 years, the ATM channel continues to evolve. A strategic approach to testing is required to ensure that ATMs are secure, comply with current legal and regulatory requirements, as well as deliver a seamless customer experience on every transaction.

Consumers continue to depend on your ATMs as one of the preferred ways to engage and interact with your organization. They rely on the channel to access their accounts and collect cash, as well as access the growing range of financial products and services that your organization offers.

Effective ATM testing is crucial. Simply put, it ensures that your clients’ transactions are processed correctly every time they enter their PIN.

Yet despite its importance, ATM testing has historically been an inefficient, time-consuming and costly process. It typically requires expensive ATM hardware sitting in specially-designed lab facilities.

But even when the machines and the lab space is available, there are still limitations to testing efficiency in this scenario. Only a small number of testers and QA staff will be able to access the physical lab, where they will stand in front of actual ATMs with a stack of test cards running transactions and (sometimes) documenting results. And many ATM hardware faults cannot be tested without risking damage to the machines. 

Testing this way is a slow, tedious process that limits the amount and quality of testing that can actually be accomplished. The result is additional cost for your business, slow and inconsistent results and the potential for negative customer experiences at your ATMs.

Thankfully, there are far more effective solutions available that utilize virtualization and automation to significantly improve the speed, quality and accuracy of ATM testing.

Chapter 3

How Virtualization Enhances ATM Testing

Virtualization technology has evolved significantly since it was first created in the 1960’s when IBM developed ‘virtual machine’ on their mainframes as a way to partition and manage workloads so that expensive hardware could be fully utilized.

Virtualization offers a number of significant advantages, including:

  1.   Simplified provisioning, deployment and management of resources
  2.   Increased productivity and more efficient utilization of IT assets
  3.   Rapid scalability, both up and down
  4.   Improved IT resiliency, recovery capabilities
  5.   More effective, policy-based security
  6.   Superior sustainability
  7.   Reduced Costs

Virtualization can be leveraged in ATM testing, where it helps developers and QA resources to test ATM functionality using virtual copies of ATM software and devices - allowing ATMs to be tested from anywhere in the world.

As a result, virtualization enables organizations to move away from conventional, and manual testing processes of standing in front of actual ATMs in a physical lab, and instead transition to a remote environment where ATMs can be tested from any place and at any time.

ATM virtualization facilitates access by remote resources and unlocks automation capabilities, allowing organizations to significantly speed up the testing process, expand test coverage and improve both test accuracy and quality.

Benefits of ATM virtualizations for testing include:

  • Improved process flexibility
  • Greater accessibility to testing environments
  • Improved ATM testing efficiencies
  • Enhanced security and control
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved consumer experience 

Ultimately, virtualized testing leads to a more efficient, robust, and profitable ATM channel.

Chapter 4

Why Automated ATM Testing is Critical to Your Digital Transformation

With a large percentage of ATM testing still being done manually, automation represents a significant area of opportunity for many ATM deployers. In fact, a survey conducted by Capgemini of nearly 2,000 executives found that among respondents only around 15 percent of all testing was automated.

With so many organizations still using manual testing processes, as well as a fragmented array of legacy tools and applications to test their ATM channel, providing a frictionless and seamless digital payment experience for an increasingly sophisticated consumer is becoming more difficult. In order for financial institutions to not only just stay ahead of the competition, but thrive, digital transformation is a necessity. 

Utilizing modern tools and simulators that leverage virtualization and automation, forward-thinking organizations can create a competitive advantage by building a robust, flexible, and highly-efficient ATM testing platform that can be easily integrated with other enterprise systems and data using APIs.

In fact, ATM testing automation will enable your company to:

  1. Speed up development times for new products and services.
  2. Improve ATM testing quality and expand test coverage.
  3. Optimize your QA, test and developer resources
  4. Increase efficiency, cutting costs and increase revenue, margins and profitability. 
Chapter 5

Supporting a Remote ATM Testing Workforce

The growth and consolidation of the financial services industry over the past few decades means that resources in many organizations are now widely dispersed across multiple geographies, time zones, even continents. 

As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to put the right resources in the right place and the right time to ensure that required ATM testing is being completed on schedule, and on budget. This issue was in the spotlight during the recent COVID-19 crises when people were literally locked out of their offices and test facilities.

The COVID-19 experience has also changed what staff expect from their employers. Employees now want jobs where they can work remotely, or at least have flexible schedules where they can choose whether to work from home or the office. In fact, Upwork estimates that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels.

Organizations that support remote ATM testing will be able to improve their access to top talent, better retain their existing resources, improve employee satisfaction, increase collaboration and efficiency, speed up ATM testing times, reduce costs and improve corporate sustainability. 

An ATM testing platform that enables remote access to virtualized ATMs eliminates any restrictions on time and distance for your employees, making it easy to quickly scale your testing capability up and down as required and empowering employees to test ATMs no matter where they are located (or at what time they are testing).

Chapter 6

Putting Your ATM Assets into the Cloud

At the turn of the century, virtualization technology took a huge leap forward. It became a critical component in the battle to tame the complex tangles of under-utilized and difficult-to-manage x86 hardware that was eating up acres of expensive floor space in packed data centers. 

In 2002, Amazon Web Services was launched, taking advantage of virtualization to deliver cost-effective services via the “cloud”.

After a slow start, banks and financial services companies are now aggressively embracing cloud technology to improve and streamline their business operations - including ATM testing - looking to take full advantage of all the benefits that the cloud can offer, including: 

  • Accessibility to resources from wherever your teams are located
  • Faster time to market for new products and solutions
  • Flexible deployment options
  • Scalability, both up and down, to fit your specific needs
  • Lower costs

Extending your test lab into the cloud provides maximum operational flexibility, enables 24x7 remote access to testing resources no matter where your staff are located and helps facilitate both collaboration and productivity.

Chapter 7

How APIs Can Play an Important Role in ATM Testing

There’s no doubt that the ATM channel is becoming increasingly more competitive and complex. Your machines must be kept continually updated to meet the rapidly changing demands from increasingly sophisticated consumers, stay current with evolving technology and compete with FinTech disruptors.

For ATM fleet owners and deployers, that means it has become increasingly necessary to do more with less when it comes to ATM testing.

As we discussed earlier in this page, virtualization unlocks a wide range of helpful benefits - including the capability to interact with ATMs programmatically, via an API.

API access to the ATM exposes operations that can execute commands, such as clicking screen icons or FDK buttons, inserting a card, inserting or dispensing media, and changing encryption keys.

Testing automation can be enhanced by using the API to remotely schedule and run ATM tests on demand. This capability can dramatically reduce overheard, increase productivity and puts developers, testers and QA teams in total control of the testing process.

Finally, using an API to interact with an ATM also enables CI/CD integration, as well as TDD and BDD scenarios, and facilitates integration with other enterprise systems so that all test data and results can be managed and aggregated in one centralized location.


Let's Talk About ATM Testing!

A Paragon product consultant can talk with you to learn more about the testing challenges that your organization is facing, then walk you through some of the key features and benefits that our ATM testing tools and simulators can provide.