Payment Certification: The Future

Steve Gilde July 20, 2022

When you examine the relationship between a payment network and its members, a significant percentage of engagement between the organizations takes place around testing and certification. And for good reason.

The certification mechanism is in place to verify that members can correctly format and securely process financial messages, as well as stay current with new requirements, such as the TR-31 Key Block mandate.

Unfortunately, in our highly competitive and rapidly changing payments industry, this critical function remains a complex and time-consuming exercise - largely unchanged for decades. 

Key challenges with the current certification process at many networks and their member organizations include:

  1. It is a manual process from end-to-end for both parties, including the way data and information is created, distributed, consumed and tested.
  2. It is expensive, consuming resources that could be utilized in other, more strategic activities, such as developing new revenue-generating products and services.
  3. It is slow and does not support automation or rapid innovation.
  4. It is difficult to effectively manage quality.
  5. Time management is unpredictable and difficult to scale.

It is time to recognize that the certification infrastructure currently in place across most of the payment industry is no longer sufficient to effectively support the collective needs of the marketplace. 

In order to meet the ever-evolving demands of increasingly sophisticated and selective consumers, we must all work together in order to improve the speed, efficiency and accuracy of our respective businesses. 

Certainly, issuers, acquirers and retailers who must get certified are increasingly interested in working with brands, networks and processors who can provide enhanced certification capabilities.

Here are several ways that deploying modern technology can help: 

  • Data management. A centralized database where certification data can be easily imported, exported, filtered and segmented will improve efficiency and accuracy at the network level and make it much easier for accurate information to be distributed to and managed at the member level.
  • Project management. Once a central database is in place, member specific certification projects that contain unique groups of tests and results can be defined, created and shared with individual members, enabling network personnel to easily track the progress of the various projects.
  • Remote access. Cloud technologies can be utilized to facilitate 24x7 remote access to a centrally managed certification system. Browser-based access means that there is no local software to maintain or manage at the member site, so their certification environment is always up to date.
  • Intelligent, unattended testing. Since members can get access to their specific projects or sandbox environment anytime from anywhere, they will need the certification system to automatically respond to their messages and transactions and update the progress of their project. There is no longer any need to schedule time with a network analyst.
  • Machine readable specifications. One of the most time consuming aspects of working with a network or processor is the analysis and interpretation of their specific message format and the ongoing changes thereof (e.g. manually reviewing Word, Excel or PDF documentation). Once the certification data has been collected and collated in a central database, it can more easily be utilized to create documentation that can be read by a computer, (e.g. XML, XSD or JSON) greatly reducing the overhead associated with the initial certification process, as well as the recurring mandate cycle.

Clearly, there is a tremendous opportunity to improve and leverage the certification process to improve efficiency, accuracy and collaboration - reducing costs, fostering innovation and enhancing the experience for users at both the network and member level.

No matter where you fit in the certification value chain, Paragon has solutions that can help improve your pre-certification and certification testing capabilities. To find out more, get in touch with our team of specialists today.

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