February 28, 2017
By Julia Ito, CEO, CleverIS Technologies
Today’s digital world is changing everything—how we think, how we socialize, how we live and almost every other aspect that touches our lives daily. It is all about being connected, with the right information, the right access at the right time. Monthly payments are executed without human intervention, and with IoT accelerating the adoption of CNP, all we must do is decide where to spend our valuable income. It is the payment system revolutionized to capture the moment and secure a purchase by making it simple, quick and painless. Behind every superb payment and purchase experience, however, hides a very complex payment system lifecycle; complexity that inexorably grows alongside the constant updates that come with new rules and regulations, innovation, or just normal application maintenance. Ensuring your payment system is properly tested is essential to the future of your organization.
How can organizations ensure changes made to their payment systems are correct? How can they expedite time-to-market and reduce testing costs? How can they ensure their payment system supports adequate levels of transaction processing? If you are involved with payment transaction testing, I am sure you are dealing with those questions daily. The payment system lifecycle is complex and requires knowledge coupled with the right experience, and if you are considering better ways to test your payment system, there are options. Whether you have your system manually tested with internal resources or through third-party specialized services, adopted an automated software solution or a mix of testing capabilities and resources, your testing solution needs to provide agility, and the ability to continuously increase the quality of your payment system while reducing costs and time-to-market. But, what are the most important considerations?
Always keep in mind that you are the one that understands your payment scheme and your testing goals, so make sure you choose a path that fits your strategic goals. Here is a list of areas you might be able to improve:
- Chanel diversity: POS, ATMs, CNP, XML, mobile, and any ISO8583: Whatever the starting point for a payment transaction—a purchase, withdrawal, deposit, reversal of a transaction, payment, transfer or simple balance inquiry—all transactions have different formatting and different paths to follow during the payment lifecycle. A key consideration is to have a test strategy without hardware dependency and the ability to quickly change existing message formats or add new channel message formats.
- Transaction testing data: Building test data that is reusable is extremely important to ensure quality and efficiency especially if you are in an agile development environment. Make sure to create your transaction message testing data with clear expected results. For example, if you know a credit card has a specific balance limit, one test case data point might just execute a simple purchase within the limits while another might exceed the limit. In the first instance your purchase should be authorized, while the second should be denied. Same credit card number, two different expected results. Ensure you have control of the testing data throughout the transaction lifecycle.
- Dependencies: No matter where you are in the payment transaction authorization lifecycle, there are dependencies that can impact your testing, causing unnecessary delays. If you are a processor, you might have a dependency on the card network and the issuing bank. If the issuer is unavailable, there isn’t much you can do. Look for alternatives to minimize the dependency by creating your own complete payment transaction lifecycle.
- Agility: adding agility to your payment application development environment can be a difficult, but not impossible, task. Start by understanding all the moving pieces within your development environment from automated test cases, to frequency, methodology and development tools. While agility might be directly related to how you tackle dependencies as described earlier, there are options out there that can certainly expedite the duration of your testing cycle.
- Performance and scalability: How do you test performance and check for how scalable your payment system is today? When you are asked whether or not your payment system can survive the next big shopping holiday, do you feel comfortable? Many have never put their payment system to test, and others depend upon in-house created scripts or manual generation of transactions. Third-party solutions can constantly stress test your payment system and continuously monitor the health of your payment system. Being proactive can save millions to your organization.
- Predictive: Changes in regulations and new types of messages—to name a few—are a constant, and making sure your payment system can handle those changes quickly is a must. See how your system reacts to new messages before changes are even made. Get ahead of the game and know what types of issues and changes are coming.
- Security and encryption: To secure transaction data, encryption is widely adopted to ensure the travelling digital data cannot be accessed or tampered with. The ability to create and handle encrypted data is crucial to ensure the completeness of your testing environment.
- Automation: If the execution of payment transaction messages is not already automated, automate as much as possible the generation of testing data, the execution of transactions and verification of results.
Those are just starting points. Keeping up with new rules and regulations while making sure your system keeps up with innovation is a huge task. While you hold the knowledge of your payment business scheme, services and software enterprises have specialized in testing payment systems. Look for the right software or service organization to partner with and that might be just the best option for your payment system testing strategy.
Julia Ito is CEO of North America for CleverIS Technologies. The Houston-based company specializes in helping organizations test payment systems – completely and without dependencies. The company works with merchants, acquirers, card networks and issuers to create complete payment system testing environments.
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